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Hailey's Comet (brutally dissected edition)

Copyright 2021 Michael Atkins

Released under the Conditions of the Open Literary License, Version 1

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: "Wednesday"
Chapter 2: "Larry"
Chapter 3: "Aphasia"
Chapter 4: "Thursday"
Chapter 5: "Psychology"
Chapter 6: "Kind Words"
Chapter 7: "Ice Cold"
Chapter 8: "Grounded"
Chapter 9: "A Comet"
Chapter 10: "Dissociation"
Chapter 11: "A Disappearance"
Chapter 12: "Cleaning House"
Chapter 13: "A Bubble Bath"
Chapter 14: "Friday"
Chapter 15: "The Glory High Slasher"
Chapter 16: "The Blame Game"
Chapter 17: "Hailey's House"
Chapter 18: "Moth to Flame"
Chapter 19: "Twisted Trees"
Chapter 20: "Wednesday's Dwelling"
Chapter 21: "Saturday"
Chapter 22: "The Church"
Chapter 23: "Ceasefire"
Chapter 24: "Sunday"
Chapter 25: "Monday"




Chapter 1: "Wednesday"
Table of Contents

The city of Malley was an average sized metropolitan area. It was a fairly mundane establishment, forged near a desert landscape. A single service road carried diligent travelers through the heart of Malley-- the Patrick Peterson Freeway. Restaurants, school campuses, and entertainment venues spotted the edges of Malley's main thoroughfare. A cramped, downtown area stuffed with irregularly shaped buildings decorated a barren, royal blue skyline. Traffic lights polluted intersections between steel structures trimmed with bricks and panes of glass. Narrow, one way streets slowed inner city traffic to a crawl.

Glory High School was a moderately sized campus for the area. 1,200 students plus 70 teachers and faculty visited the grounds nine months out of each year. One particular Wednesday, the four parking lots surrounding Glory High were completely full. The sun was sinking into the western half of the sky. A gentle breeze carried puffy clouds from the north. Even though fall was around the corner, jade green grass surrounded the base of the campus. Squirrels scampered up and down lush trees filled with chirping sparrows.

Hailey and Wednesday sat across from each other. They were attending their English class on the third floor. Mr. Watts split the class into groups of two. Hailey and Wednesday chose a pair of desks near the back corner of the room. The girls sat beside a window. The classroom was filled with student chatter. The volume of pupil conversation was deafening. Students could have been planning to overthrow the city council. No one would've been able to tell. Hailey and Wednesday were supposed to be discussing Henry V. But as usual, Wednesday was busy steering the conversation in a different direction.

Wednesday had a pale face and dark hair. The curvy features of Wednesday's heart shaped face poked out of curtains of pitch black follicles. A set of pale, blue eyes gazed below ends of long, black bangs. Ruby red lips were pressed together below the tip of Wednesday's tiny nose. A black, leather jacket was wrapped around Wednesday's narrow shoulders. The collar of a white, silk blouse poked out of the breast of Wednesday's coat. Wednesday slid a CD jewel case from her desk to Hailey's. A bright blue compact disc was fastened to the base of a plastic frame. Wednesday recorded it the night before on her computer system.

Hailey stared at a royal blue ellipse from a set of emerald eyes. Hailey's pupils gazed through rectangular lenses suspended between gold plated dowels. Orange hair like fire framed the edges of Hailey's pale face. Glints of sunlight illuminated golden strands sprouting from Hailey's scalp. Hailey wore a light blue turtleneck. Cuffs of baby blue sleeves surrounded the ends of Hailey's slender wrists. Groups of pale fingers dotted with crimson nail polish extended from the ends of Hailey's sweater sleeves. Hailey's tiny digits surrounded a pane of transparent plastic protecting the disc Wednesday recorded.

Wednesday grinned. "These are the guys I was telling you about," Wednesday whispered through a pair of smiling, ruby lips.

Hailey snatched the CD Wednesday recorded off of her desk. "Yeah?" she inquired. "What're they called again? 'Blades of Shit'?"

A set of sarcastic eyebrows flattened Wednesday's pale irises. "'Blades of Sloth'," Wednesday corrected. Hailey snickered. Wednesday licked ruby beeswax coating her lips. "You said you would listen to them." Hailey squinted. She shook a jewel case between tips of pale fingers decorated with crimson nail polish.

"I don't like music like this. Bunch of Satanic crap."

Wednesday lifted her palms. "They're good, though. Listen to them."

Hailey inhaled a breath through gloss coated lips. "I don't think I want--" Wednesday pounded her fist on her desktop. Her eyes popped open.

"You-- listen to it!" she yelped.

Hailey's eyelids peeled off of emerald shutters attached to her corneas. "I-- don't-- want-- to!" Wednesday poked the back of the jewel case with her index finger. Black nail polish coating Wednesday's fingernail pounded a plastic sheet supporting a light blue compact disc.

"Listen-- to the fucking C-D!" Wednesday snapped. "You-- little bitch!" Hailey stared into her friend's pale irises. Wednesday stared back. She poked the jewel case with her pointer finger. "Take it!" she snarled. "Take it!" Hailey gazed into a set of wild, pale blue shutters. She yanked the jewel case away from her friend's finger.

"All-- right!" Hailey shouted back. She bent over beside her desk. She dropped the jewel case in a compartment attached to a bright red backpack. She sat up. She focused on a book laying on her desk. "Now--" Hailey responded. "Can we please-- finish reading this scene?" Wednesday looked at her copy of Henry V. She rubbed her eyes. Hailey watched her friend mashing her eyeballs. She sighed. "What??"

Wednesday pointed at rows of printed text with the tips of her fingers. "This-- Shakespeare-- bullshit--" Wednesday groaned. "It's-- so boring!"

"Henry the Fifth isn't that bad," Hailey explained. Hailey's emerald irises floated to the upper, right corners of her eyeballs. "Now, Hamlet--"

"I don't even understand this when I read it," Wednesday replied. She stared at text printed on tiny sheets. She shook frustrated fingers beside the edges of her book. "What-- is even going on right now??"

"They're about to go into battle," Hailey explained. "The story's almost over."

Wednesday gazed into her friend's eyes below ends of long, black bangs. "Are you sure?"

"Well, I watched the movie," Hailey responded. She looked at her book. "Sooo--"

"The movie?" Wednesday inquired. "There's a movie?" Hailey looked up. She grinned. She pointed at text printed on flimsy pages.

"This is a play," Hailey explained. "Plays were meant to be watched-- not read." Hailey licked her lips. "Reading a Shakespeare play is stupid. Isn't it?"

Wednesday slammed the front cover of her book on top of the book's pages. "Well-- I know what I'm gonna watch, tonight. For-get this!"

Hailey tilted her head. "Well, okay." She lifted the edge of her book. She pointed out text printed on narrow pages. "But, you really should memorize some of these lines. Okay?" An electronic bell played through a loudspeaker. Wednesday stared at crimson nail polish coating her friend's index finger. She licked her lips.

"Yeahh--" Wednesday croaked. "I should really do that." Wednesday stood up. She dropped a blue jean backpack on her desk. She shoved her book inside. "Wanna come over to my house tonight and watch the actual movie?" Hailey was standing up. She slid her copy of Henry V and a three ring binder into her bright red backpack. She slung her book bag around her shoulders.

"I can't," Hailey replied. "I've gotta study for an Algebra Two test."

Wednesday slid her arms through denim straps fastened to her backpack. "Oh," she responded. She studied her friend's pale face. She squinted. "When's that test?"

"Friday," Hailey replied.

The girls headed towards a door leading to the main hallway. "Friday?" Wednesday requisitioned. "You can study for that tomorrow night!"

"I need to study, Wednesday," Hailey responded. "I have to memorize these weird quadratic formulas. And, I wanna make sure I can solve some of the problems in our textbook."

Hailey and Wednesday were the last students to exit Mr. Watts' classroom. Mr. Watts stayed behind to grade papers. The girls followed their classmates through an open door. In the main hallway, they became submerged in a sea of students. They fought their way towards a set of stairs. Hailey looked down an adjoining hallway. She spotted a fellow classmate from her Psychology and Algebra II classes. He stood with his back against a locker. He was making out with his girlfriend, Jennifer. Hailey studied Travis and Jennifer's lips. Jennifer's gloss coated mouth edges were pressed tightly against Travis' lips. Travis and Jennifer squeezed their mouths together, tilted their heads, and suckled each other's lip edges.

Hailey heard hummingbirds in her ears. She watched Travis making out with his girlfriend. Jennifer slid tips of feminine fingers through shaggy, jet black hair hanging out of Travis' scalp. She crushed the fingers of her free hand against Travis' lean, muscular chest. Hailey imagined gazing into Travis' cornflower blue eyes. She imagined the edges of Travis' mouth pressed against her gloss coated lips. She pictured the surfaces of Travis' muscular pecks pressed against the palm of her hand. Hailey's pale cheeks glowed bright red.

"What-- do you see in that guy?" Wednesday interjected. Wednesday's sudden vocalization sliced Hailey's thoughts in two. Hailey faced her friend. She shook sexual images from her mind.

"I-- I dunno," Hailey replied. Hailey studied Travis' shaggy, jet black locks from the corners of her eyes. "He's-- good looking."

"He's a fucking-- faggot with a microscopic dick!" Wednesday barked back. "Are you kidding me?" Hailey faced her friend. "Besides," Wednesday continued, "he's taken."

Hailey studied stairs she and her friend descended. "I heard they might break up," Hailey responded. She looked at Wednesday. She squinted. "And-- what do you mean he's a faggot!?" Hailey pointed over her shoulder with her thumb. "He's-- making out with Jennifer Rogers!"

"I know men," Wednesday coldly explained. "You don't think I know a fag when I see one?" Hailey lifted her palms. She squinted.

"I-- bet I know more about guys than you do, Wednesday. What-everr!"

"Hailey," Wednesday responded. "You've gone on one date since I met you. And, that was in junior high!" Hailey studied her friend's face. She smirked.

"Exactly." Wednesday looked up. Her lips formed an "o".

"Aww--" Wednesday snarled. She slugged her friend's shoulder. Wednesday's soft knuckles collided with elastic, light blue fabric covering Hailey's bicep. "Fuck you, Hailey! Jeez." Hailey flattened her palm on a tube of black leather surrounding her friend's upper arm. She shoved Wednesday, playfully.

"Oh, you-- fuckin' cunt!" Hailey shouted. Wednesday stumbled down steps on soles of black leather boots. She mashed a crimson skirt against the edges of her knees. She was worried her dress might float up her thighs and show off her panties. She gazed into her friend's emerald green eyes. Hailey and Wednesday smiled at each other. Hailey was surprised by the texture of her friend's coat. It was really soft. "I like your jacket," Hailey remarked.

"Thanks," Wednesday replied. She rubbed her bicep. She looked down. A set of white, canvas shoes was strapped around Hailey's feet. Necks of white socks surrounded the lower halves of Hailey's calves. Cuffs of khaki capris ended below Hailey's knees. Slender, birch stained britches climbed Hailey's thighs, stretched around the curves of her hips, and disappeared below her baby blue turtleneck. "I like your--" Wednesday remarked. She pointed at pentagonal pockets stitched to Hailey's tiny butt. "Khakis."

"Fuck off," Hailey responded.

Hailey and Wednesday arrived at a set of double doors. Hailey followed a couple of students through the right hand door. Wednesday exited through the door on the left. The girls stepped onto a concrete walkway. It led to a parking lot. The cement path became sidewalk surrounding the edge of the campus. The walkway was surrounded by jade green grass and plush trees. A block of concrete stood next to Wednesday's side of the walkway. A twenty foot flagpole extended from the top. Wednesday glanced at Hailey. She dropped on soft grass blades. She hopped onto the concrete block. Wednesday's fingers surrounded a stainless steel post erupting from a cement boulder. Wednesday leaned away from Glory High's flagpole. She extended the fingers of her free hand, closed her eyes, and inhaled through her nostrils. She exhaled a satisfied breath through a set of grinning, ruby red lips.

A hideous squawk pierced Wednesday's peaceful thoughts. "Wednesday Williams!" a disgusted voice shrieked. "Get down off that flagpole!" Wednesday's eyes opened. Wednesday looked beside Hailey. Ms. Goodwin's furious eyes stared back. A set of piercing irises glared below points of auburn eyebrows under a mound of beehive shaped hair. Ms. Goodwin's crinkled face extended from the collar of a long, plaid dress with blue and green checks. Thick calves wrapped in tan nylons disappeared into maryjanes with high heels. Wednesday stared at crinkles extending from angry eyes beneath lumps of amber locks. She hopped onto the sidewalk. She stood beside Hailey. Ms. Goodwin glared into Wednesday's pale irises. She crushed sets of tight knuckles against a pair of beach ball shaped hips. Wednesday inhaled through her ruby red lips.

"Sorry, Ms. Goodwin," she remarked. Ms. Goodwin pointed between Wednesday's pale, blue eyes. She stared out of a pair of cold, dark shutters. Wednesday gazed down the top of a long, carrot shaped finger. It looked like it was about a hundred feet long.

"I'm watching you, missy!" Ms. Goodwin shouted. "You'd better straighten it up!" Ms. Goodwin's furious fingers dropped beside her hip. She turned her icy gaze on Hailey. Hailey stared into Ms. Goodwin's tar shaded irises. She folded her arms over her chest. "You too, Hailey Holloway!" Ms. Goodwin squawked. "I've got my eye on you, too!" Ms. Goodwin glanced at Wednesday. "Both of you!"

Hailey showed Ms. Goodwin an apologetic palm. "Okay, Ms. Goodwin," she kindly replied. Ms. Goodwin frowned. She glanced at Wednesday. Then, she walked away to pester somebody else. Hailey and Wednesday moseyed down the walkway. They dropped off of surrounding sidewalk. They wandered through the main parking lot. Wednesday retrieved a pack of smokes from her coat pocket once the girls reached the second row of cars. She fished out a cancer stick. She popped it in her mouth. She offered one to her friend. Hailey looked up. She shooed Wednesday with her fingers.

"I can't," Hailey responded. "I'm on a diet."

"Hailey, smoke one cigarette with me!" Wednesday begged. A coffin nail flopped up and down between Wednesday's ruby lips when she spoke.

"You know--" Hailey replied. "I woke up at about-- four-thirty this morning. And, I couldn't go back to sleep."

Wednesday flipped open a gold plated lighter. "Yeah?" she inquired. Wednesday rolled a tiny wheel beside a chrome chimney. A one inch flame erupted from the end of a steel tube spotted with eighth inch holes. "You had something on your mind?" Wednesday intersected the tip of her cigarette with the end of a tiny fire poking out of her fingertips. She swung her lighter away from her face. A gold plated cap snuffed out a tangerine eruption.

"Well," Hailey continued. "It was my mom. She kept-- coughing." Hailey looked at pitch black strands growing out of her friend's temple. "Bad." Wednesday yanked a lit cigarette away from her face. She inhaled through ruby red lips. She looked into Hailey's emerald irises. Slender eyebrows flattened Wednesday's pale, blue eyes.

"Oh."

"She kept-- hacking," Hailey added. Ginger shaded eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Hailey's nose. "For like an hour." Hailey faced forward. "Yeah, I can't wait to have that problem some day." Wednesday inhaled steaming hot mist. She turned her head. She cupped her fingers in front of her lips. She started hacking into a space between her tiny digits.

"Very funny," Hailey responded. Hailey and Wednesday reached a row of sidewalk surrounding the edge of Glory High's main parking lot. The streets beside the parking lot were small, back roads. There wasn't a whole lot of traffic on them, yet. Wednesday and Hailey typically parted ways once they reached the sidewalk. Hailey faced her friend.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Wednesday," Hailey remarked.

Wednesday stared at emerald irises behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. "Yeah, sure," she replied. She smirked. "Won't even come over and watch a movie with me!"

Apricot eyebrows lifted above Hailey's eyes. "I have to study!" she re-stated. Wednesday gazed into her friend's eyes. She nodded. Her ruby lips formed a smile.

"Uh-huh." Wednesday dashed across one street. Hailey crossed an intersecting road.

Near the entrance to the main parking lot, Travis was climbing into his truck. Travis drove a four door pickup with an extended cab. The truck's paint consisted of a black base coat and decorative flames. Airbrushed images of orange bursts embellished the front fenders of Travis' shiny, black pickup. After lunch, Travis managed to park his truck one row from the front. That was as close as a student could park to the school. The front row was reserved for faculty. Travis shut the door to his pickup. His leather jacket grinded ridges of black cow hide formed across the surface of his driver's seat. Travis started his vehicle's engine. He rolled down his driver's side window. He poked his head through an open port near the upper half of his door frame.

"Hurry up, douchebags!" Travis shouted. He looked around. "Jennifer!" Travis motioned towards the cab of his pickup. "C'mon." Travis plopped down in his driver's seat. He looked out of his pickup's passenger window. He spotted his friends Gary and Tatum. Travis rolled down his passenger's side window. "Gary!" he shouted. "Get your goofy ass girlfriend and get in the back!" Travis pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. He faced forward. Travis' friend Paul walked up. He stood beside Travis' driver's side window. Paul wore a checkered jacket, jeans, and a set of blue tinted shades. Paul's somber sunglasses covered his eyes below a head of short, brown hair. Travis stared into a set of octagonal lenses. They were the color of glass cleaner.

"Aww, Paul--" Travis groaned. "You are not riding with me, you fuck!" Travis pointed between the lenses of Paul's sunglasses. "You know better! Why do you always do this to me?" Travis peered into a set of lenses like blue gelatin dessert. It was as close as anyone got to seeing Paul's eyes. Paul grinned. He reached for Travis' driver's side door handle. Travis quickly pressed a door lock button. Paul raised his palms beside his shoulders.

"Come on, Travis--" Paul groaned. "Why can't I ride with you guys?"

"You're riding in Vicky's car, Paul," Travis explained. "With Tommy and Joe." Travis stuck his pointer finger in Paul's face. "Now, get back."

Paul smacked his lips. "But, I mean-- why should I ride with them?"

Travis situated himself in his seat. "Paul," he returned. "Don't start your shit." Paul opened his mouth to say something else. Travis reached inside a console between the front seats of his pickup. He retrieved the first CD he could get his hands on. Travis popped a disc into a CD player poking out of the middle of his dash board. He turned a volume knob clockwise. YKC (one of Travis' favorite bands) drowned out the sound of Paul's voice. Travis looked at Paul. He grinned. Paul continued to ramble about-- something.

Travis diverted his attention to the school building. More of his friends were coming to join him and Paul. There was Gary. Gary had shaggy, brown hair. He wore a red, plaid shirt and jeans. A slight wind blew through Gary's checkered top. A t-shirt underneath was decorated with an alternative band's artwork. Gary's girlfriend, Tatum walked beside him. She wore a lime green blouse and black jeans. Long, crimson braids extended from Tate's scalp to her biceps. Jennifer walked next to Tatum. She wore a navy blue turtleneck and black bell bottoms. She had long, brown hair and pale, blue eyes. Pink gloss was smudged along Jennifer's lips from her and Travis making out. Vicky walked next to Jennifer. Dark brown eyes below long, brown hair reflected glints of sunlight. Vicky wore a white sweater and pale, bell bottomed jeans. The ends of Vicky's pant legs were rolled up. Joe and Tommy walked next to Vicky. They were a couple of punkers. Joe wore a red leather jacket, a black dress shirt, and navy blue jeans. He spiked up a black Mohawk in the boys' room before leaving the school building. Tommy wore a set of dark shades and a hairdo full of short, blue spikes. He sported a black jacket, a turquoise shirt, and worn out denim britches.

Travis and Paul's friends walked by Ms. Goodwin. Ms. Goodwin's beehive hairdo bobbed in a sudden gust of wind. It threatened to come tumbling down. Ms. Goodwin narrowed a set of crinkled eyes. Her head slowly turned as Gary, Tate, Jennifer, Vicky, Joe, and Tommy walked by. Tommy lowered a set of black tinted lenses. He gazed into Ms. Goodwin's tar shaded irises. He offered her a warm smile made of jagged, broken teeth. Ms. Goodwin, crossed her arms over her chest. She replied with a cold frown. Jennifer, Gary, and Tate climbed into Travis' truck. Jennifer sat in the front, passenger's seat. Gary and Tate shared the back. Vicky, Joe, and Tommy stood next to Paul. Joe reached through the driver's side window. He bumped fists with Travis.

"Mayun--" Joe groaned. "I hate thayut Miss Goodwin, Trav. Someone oughta put her out of her-- God damn misery, already." Travis smirked. He cranked up the tunes. He began revving his truck's engine. Travis' stereo and exhaust system were designed to be obnoxiously earsplitting. Tate widened a set of big, blue eyes. She plugged her ears. Travis' truck windows rippled from thumps of bass. The chassis of Travis' pickup twisted from engine torque. Jennifer threw out her arms. She grabbed an arm rest fastened to her door. The fingers of Jennifer's free hand wadded around black leather covering the back of her seat. Ms. Goodwin glared at Travis and his friends. Amber eyebrows fell between the inner corners of Ms. Goodwin's disgusted eyes. Ms. Goodwin's jaw dropped from a twisted face. Ms. Goodwin plopped angry fists on her big, fat hips. Travis and his buddies stared back. They awaited Ms. Goodwin's response. Ms. Goodwin pointed a long, carrot shaped finger at Travis and his friends.

"You'd better keep it down over there, MISTER!" Ms. Goodwin shrieked.

"WHAT?!" Travis screamed back. "TURN IT UP?!" No one thought it possible. But, Travis actually turned his music up-- louder. Tatum squeezed the ends of her fingers inside the openings of her ears.

"Woooooooooh!" she shouted. Travis flattened his truck's gas pedal. He shifted into reverse. One of the pickup's rear tires began to shriek. White smoke poured out of a gap between rubber treads and old, sticky asphalt. The truck didn't move. It stood in place, burning rubber. Ms. Goodwin bowed her head and stuck her fingers in her ears. Students walking by did the same. Travis tapped his truck's brake pedal. The pickup flew backwards. Travis swiveled his truck's steering wheel towards its driver's side door. Once the pickup was out far enough, Travis lifted his foot off its gas pedal. He stomped the truck's brake pedal to the floor. He shifted into drive and white-smoked his truck's tire again. Travis' pickup spun out to the end of the parking lot. Vicky, Joe, Tommy, and Paul grinned at Ms. Goodwin. Ms. Goodwin stared at the group. Her thick, auburn eyebrows pointed down the bridge of her nose. Her arms folded themselves on top of her chest. Her lips ripped themselves apart. The quartet skedaddled. They headed for Vicky's faded, olive green Station Cruiser. Vicky fumbled with her keys.

"W-Wait, everybody!" Vicky screamed. Paul got to Vicky's car first. He began pulling the front, passenger door handle. He reached up and pounded on the window.

"Vicky!" Paul shouted. "Vicky, let me in!" Paul cupped his fingers along the edges of his shades. He framed blue, octagonal lenses with the beginnings of his hands. He pressed the ends of his palms against Vicky's Station Cruiser window. He looked inside. "Vicky?" Paul requisitioned. Joe arrived beside the Station Cruiser. He began banging on the rear, passenger window.

"Come on, Vicky!" Joe shouted. "Let me in!" Joe pounded plate glass with the edge of his fist. "Vicky!"

"Oh, my God!" Vicky screamed. "Fuck you guys! Shut-up!"

"Oh God, Vicky!!" Tommy shouted. "Let me in! Let me in!" Tommy sprinted to the rear bumper of Vicky's car. "Vicky!" Tommy collided with the Station Cruiser's rear window. His face bounced on a pane of laminated glass. Tommy toppled backwards. He rolled into a ball. He collapsed on points of roaming pebbles.

"You guys are dicks!" Vicky barked. Vicky hopped over Tommy's lifeless carcass. Tommy snagged a hold of Vicky's ankle. Tommy's long, skinny fingers snapped shut around pale skin erupting from the neck of Vicky's white tennis shoe. Vicky shrieked. She dropped, face first. Vicky flattened a set of frightened palms on crumbling pavement. Tommy dragged Vicky across loose gravel. He grabbed a hold of pale denim surrounding Vicky's knees. He flipped Vicky onto her back. Tommy squeezed his knees around Vicky's hips. He plopped down on top of her thighs. Tommy threw out sets of frantic fingers beside the edges of his shoulders. He stared into Vicky's dark brown eyes through darkly tinted lenses.

"Vicky!" Tommy shouted. He grinned. Partial sets of crooked teeth showed between Tommy's smiling lips. "You gonna let me drive, today?" Tommy demanded. Vicky stared into Tommy's grinning, toothless face. She fought back giggles. She squeezed a set of smiling lips together.

"N-No!" Vicky squeezed out. Tommy reached for Vicky's keys. They dangled from the fingers of Vicky's right hand. Tommy's scrawny fingertips squeezed shut around stainless steel teeth. Vicky yanked her keys away from Tommy's slender digits. She crushed them on top of her chest.

"Tommy!" Vicky shouted. "She's gonna get us, Tommy!"

Tommy's fingers squeezed shut around Vicky's. "Let me drive," Tommy repeated. Vicky tightened her fingers. She swiveled her fist towards the edge of her ribs.

"Tommy, no!"

"Vicky!" Tommy shrieked. Tommy tugged Vicky's fingers towards his chest. Vicky looked towards the Station Cruiser. She glanced at the lenses of Paul's blue shades.

"You guys!" Vicky screamed. "Help me!" Paul hopped on the roof of Vicky's car. He studied blue hair spikes poking out of Tommy's scalp. He shook furious fists beside his shoulders.

"EAAAAAAHH!!" Paul snarled. He dropped off the edge of the Station Cruiser. Paul's elbow collided with a gap between Tommy's shoulder blades. The rest of Paul's body collapsed on Tommy's furious biceps and the edges of his ribs. Tommy's fingers slipped off of Vicky's.

"AH!" Tommy yelped. Paul shoved himself to his feet. He snagged a hold of Tommy's neck with his bicep and forearm. Paul stood behind Tommy. He squeezed blue spikes poking out of the back of Tommy's scalp against checkers decorating his jacket.

"Get off, motha fucker!" Paul instructed. Tommy's scrawny fingers squeezed shut around Paul's bicep and forearm. Tommy attempted to pry Paul's arm off of his trachea.

"Hey-- freak--" Tommy squeezed through a clenched throat. "Get-- off of me!" Vicky dragged herself away from Tommy's thighs. She scrambled to her feet and fumbled with her keys. She unlocked the driver's side door of the Station Cruiser. She climbed inside and started the engine. A puff of black smoke spat out of the Station Cruiser's tailpipe. Paul loosened his arm. Tommy swung Paul's forearm and bicep away from his neck. He turned around. He inhaled panicked breaths.

"Damn it, Paul," Tommy heaved. Tommy pointed between blue lenses covering Paul's eyes. "You are no-- fun, man. No fun!"

"God damn it!" Paul blew through a chuckle. Paul smacked Tommy's pointing fist. "Get in the fucking car, Tommy!" Paul wandered towards the Station Cruiser's rear bumper. He pointed at blue spikes poking out of Tommy's scalp. "I'm not playin' with you either, man. Get in." Vicky reached across the front seat. She unlocked the front and rear passenger doors. Paul sat next to Vicky. Joe sat behind him. Tommy pulled a chrome handle near the top of the rear, driver's side door. The door was still locked. Tommy banged on the window.

"Hey!" Tommy shouted. "Let me in, motha fuckers!" Tommy pounded glass poking out of Vicky's rear, passenger door. Joe reached across the back seat. He pulled up a chrome plated stick beside the door's window. Tommy hopped inside the Station Cruiser. He slammed the door. Vicky began backing up. Vicky and her passengers rolled down their windows to let in some fresh air. Vicky stomped on the brakes. She switched the Station Cruiser to drive. She smashed the gas pedal to the floor. The engine revved for a couple of seconds. Then, Vicky's car took off.

"Need transmission fluid!" Tommy yelped.

Hailey was five blocks down Dora Lane. She had five to go. She was in a fairly decent neighborhood. It was much nicer than her own. No one parked their vehicles on the sidewalk along that stretch of Dora Lane. People either parked in their driveway or in a nice garage. Every lawn was green and neatly trimmed. Some yards had circular drives. Others were decorated with intricate rock gardens. One yard always earned Hailey's attention. It was occupied by a pair of enormous, twisting oak trees. The trees themselves were impressive. They were large enough to shade the entire yard, parts of neighbors' yards, the sidewalk out front, and the street. They were also taller than the roof of a nice house built behind them. The trees' swirling trunks and branches twisted through each other and grew together. Creating the dreamscape would have been a painstaking process. Hailey figured artifacts of the twisting oak trees were manually trimmed and woven together over the course of one hundred years. The sight made Hailey smile every time she walked by.

The scream of an approaching engine scattered Hailey's thoughts. Hailey peeked over her shoulder. She continued to saunder along the edge of the road. A black pickup trimmed with orange flames was racing towards her. When the truck was a couple of blocks away, Hailey could hear loud rock music. Explosive sound waves compressed brick walls and windows when the truck passed. Hailey shoved her fingers inside her ears. She watched the black pickup approach. She heard the occupants of the pickup hooting and hollering. She realized it was Travis and some of his friends. Travis noticed Hailey. He stopped shouting. He looked Hailey over. Travis and Hailey's eyes met. Irises like cornflower smudges focused on emerald shutters. Travis and Hailey's heads turned while the pickup flew by. Travis' three occupants continued to shriek. Hailey and Travis' gaze lasted until compression waves from loud music and engine noise punched Hailey in the chest. Hailey swirled on toes of white, canvas shoes. She watched Travis' truck barrel down Dora Lane.

"Wow," Hailey rasped through gloss coated lips. She grinned like an idiot. She couldn't help it. She looked down. Like most sidewalks, the one Hailey followed was made of squares of concrete laid in a row. Hailey began hopping down the sidewalk. She leapt in the direction of her house. She traveled one cement square at a time. Hailey's white, canvas shoes created tiny echoes. Repetitions of Hailey's teensy feet dropping on sidewalk traveled along empty bricks cemented to the edges of Dora Lane. Hailey skipped across twenty squares. Her red backpack hopped on baby blue fabric covering her shoulder blades. Ginger locks, light blue elastic, and limestone capris floated on light gusts drifting by. Another car approached. Hailey looked behind her. A green Station Cruiser was driving down the street. Hailey stopped. She turned around to watch.

"Let me drive!" Hailey heard Tommy yell as the Station Cruiser rolled by.

"Tommy, Jesus Christ!" Vicky screamed back.

Vicky's car passed. Hailey smiled. She turned around. She resumed walking home. Dora Lane began to curve right. Half a block in front of Hailey became obscured. Hailey knew the Patrick Peterson Freeway would be coming around the curve in a couple of blocks. Hailey's heart began thumping. She realized she would be crossing fourteen lanes of terrifying, rush hour traffic in a few short moments. She did it every afternoon on the way home from school. No matter how many times Hailey crossed the freeway after class, she continued to feel apprehensive about scurrying across. There was just-- something about it. Hailey felt so helpless having to run across. There was something about walking among swarms of two ton vehicles, flying by at seventy miles an hour. Plus, it took forever before a clearing large enough presented itself. Sometimes, Hailey stood on the side of the freeway for ten minutes waiting for an opening

Hailey spotted a plastic flamingo with rainbow colored windmills. Hypnotically decorated swirls surrounding the pink lawn ornament's wings twirled in the wind. The flamingo was another reminder that the Patrick Peterson was getting close. Hailey made it one block down the curve at the end of Dora Lane. She could hear traffic gushing across the Patrick Peterson. Roaring engines, whooshing air, and squalling rubber made tiny hairs along the back of Hailey's neck stand on end. Hailey swallowed hard. She continued wandering on wobbly legs. Hailey spotted a brick fence near the end of somebody's lawn. It was a waist high structure made of red bricks. There was half a brick's space between each brick, creating a checkerboard out of mud blocks and tiny windows. The fence meant the freeway would be coming into view very soon. Hailey sighed. After a few steps, the road straightened out. Dora Lane turned into a small field of grass. The field of grass became a dead end. Hailey stopped walking. She stared across the freeway. Emeralds studied high speed traffic behind rectangular panes of glass surrounding the bridge of Hailey's nose.

Hailey looked above a concrete wall the height of her waist. The cement barrier was forged along the end of a grass field. The freeway consisted of six westbound lanes and six eastbound lanes. A set of left turn lanes was outlined between two sets of opposing driving lanes. The twelve traffic lanes were filled with cars as far as the eye could see. Automobiles flew from both directions. Various vehicles raced down the freeway at mind bending speeds. They drove up, cut each other off, and continued flying by incompassionately. The Patrick Peterson was a covenant of ordered chaos. Hailey's eyebrows sank between her eyes. Hailey folded arms wrapped in baby blue fabric over her chest. Her eyes scanned a horizon of high speed steel. They studied hoards of interweaving machines.

Hailey's eyes wandered left. Then, they wandered right. Hailey attempted to make sense of a jumbled, confusing mess. After a minute, she saw a way through. It consisted of two holes in opposing groups of vehicles. Eventually, there would be a moment when the two holes lined up. Hailey's chance to make it across was coming. But, she was going to have to run to her left in order to catch it. The two holes would not align where she stood. And, more cars would quickly fill rare openings. Hailey took off. She sprinted the length of a city block. She arrived just in time to fly through a traffic gap. There was a problem. Two cars merged into the left turn lane. It ruined Hailey's plan. Hailey's head tilted. She exhaled an impatient breath. She would have to wait on the two cars to turn before she could cross the second gap. But by then, it would be too late. Hailey didn't want to get stuck in the middle of the Patrick Peterson. So, she stopped. She crossed her arms in front of her tiny breasts. She watched cars re-paint a hole at the same time the gap in the eastbound vehicles appeared. The left-turning cars made their turns. Then, the freeway became full again.

Hailey lowered her head. She yanked her backpack off of her shoulders. She dropped it on blades of wild grass. Hailey leaned on the concrete divider that separated her from the Patrick Peterson. She stood with her hands hanging over the railing. Tiny fingers spotted with crimson nail polish dangled from crossing wrists surrounded by baby blue sweater sleeves. Hailey forced glittering, pink lips to the left edge of her face. Strands of orange, shoulder length hair floated in front of Hailey's cheeks and the tip of her nose. Hailey looked around. There was another hole in the eastbound traffic. But, there was no hole in the westbound traffic to pair it with. Hailey watched grimly as the inviting gap flew by. Another opening came and went on the same side of the road. Hailey sighed. Finally, a hole in the westbound traffic drifted into sight. Unfortunately, there was no hole to match it with in the eastbound traffic.

Hailey bent over. She retrieved her book bag from a blanket of grass near the end of Dora Lane. She slung a set of bright red straps over her shoulders. She hopped onto the railing and waited for the westbound gap to greet her. Hailey dropped onto a field of barren freeway lanes. She sprinted across empty pavement. She parked in the westbound left turn lane. "What if there's a wreck?" Hailey thought to herself. "What if someone else needs to turn left?" Hailey exhaled a heavy breath. She stood helplessly in the middle of a fourteen lane thoroughfare. After ten seconds, three westbound vehicles pulled into the left turn lane. Hailey rolled her eyes. She turned to check the eastbound traffic. As luck would have it, a hole was on the way.

Hailey glanced beside her. A compact car skidded across shiny, black asphalt. It stopped a couple of feet from the edges of Hailey's white tennis shoes. A driver sank his fingers into the surface of a rubber hoop. He looked pretty surprised to see Hailey standing in the middle of the road. Hailey stared into the driver's frantic, lemon shaped eyes. She sighed. She shook her head. Hailey heard two sets of tires squalling behind the car that stopped. The sound of impatient horn toots pounded Hailey's eardrums. Hailey cringed. She squeezed her fingers inside her ears. She faced forward. Hailey dashed across the last six lanes of the Patrick Peterson. She gratefully hopped onto a chunk of sidewalk. Then, she stopped to catch her breath. A young lady's voice scattered Hailey's thoughts.

"'scuse me, miss?" Hailey swirled on the toes of her canvas sneakers. She scrambled to focus on a rough looking face floating on the end of a scrawny neck. "Y'all got any cash?" the young lady asked. Hailey gazed into a set of dark, thoughtless eyes. She inhaled through a set of carnation pink lips. She exhaled an impatient breath.

"Jesus Christ," Hailey breathed out. "No." Hailey wandered by the young lady. She headed for her house. After a few steps, Hailey heard a rather rude response.

"Man-- fuck you den, bitch!" the unknown lady shrieked. Hailey folded her arms over her chest. She sighed and shook her head. There was a slight chill in the air. Hailey laid her fingers on top of baby blue fabric covering her biceps. She rubbed the edges of her arms. She was excited she made it across the freeway, again. But then, she remembered-- she was almost home.




Chapter 2: "Larry"
Table of Contents

Some homes are cozy, laid back, and charming. Some families decorate their houses with pictures on shelves. Or, they hang little wooden hearts painted with warm words and short poems. Hailey's house was gloomy. An aroma of old takeout food and half filled beer bottles awaited anyone who dared to walk through the door. The entrance to Hailey's home was usually wide open. A floppy screen door was the only thing standing between crooked minds and Hailey and her mother's belongings. When Hailey's mom bothered to lock the storm door, a person could simply slip through the peeling screen.

In the morning, Hailey's mother was (typically) passed out on the living room couch. Usually, she was laying down with half a box of pizza resting on top of her chest. Normally, the living room television was up way too loud to keep Hailey's mom company. Hailey's mother typically slept off a hangover until some time after noon. Then, she dragged herself to her feet, threw on a pair of slippers, and drove to the nearest gas station to buy booze.

It wasn't always that way. Every once in a while, Hailey's mom could swing a job bagging groceries or something. She would keep a job like that for a couple of weeks. Sometimes, she managed to hold a position for an entire month. Eventually, Hailey's mom got wasted and mouthed off to a manager or a fellow employee. Once, she punched out a customer because she thought he was coming on to her. He was asking for change. When Hailey's mom lost a job, she and Hailey would live off of what little money she managed to save. She tried to swindle money out of boyfriends and anyone she could party with. Initially, people felt sorry for Hailey's mother. But the more they got to know her, the less they felt.

The Wednesday Hailey came home to study for her Algebra II test, her mom had not worked in months. The house was filthier than it had ever been. A putrid odor flowed through a hole in the screen door. Hailey froze in front of the entrance to her home. She turned her head. She pinched her nostrils together. She felt like throwing up. Hailey checked out front. Her mom's cruddy S.U.V. was parked in the driveway. An old pickup was parked next to a sidewalk along the front of the property. An old T-Bird was parked behind that. Hailey was pretty sure she knew who the T-Bird belonged to. She hoped she was wrong. Hailey yanked an old, rotting frame away from the entrance to her house. A chunk of screen hung from shifting planks of warped wood. Hailey stepped inside her home. The storm door slammed shut. A rectangular structure formed from old boards flopped against an ancient door frame. Hailey jumped. She always did.

Hailey looked around. She had trouble making sense of things. She left an environment illuminated by rich sunlight. She wandered into (basically) a cave. Hailey stared into confusing darkness. Flickering lights from an old television set lit up hideous, nicotine stained walls from time to time. Hailey spotted her mother on the living room couch. A couple of guys were sitting with Hailey's mom. One of them was Larry.

"Wooooooooh!" Hailey's mother screamed. She threw a set of skinny, ghost white arms into the air. Larry and the other guy began to hoot and holler at something on TV. The unknown man looked up.

"Who's this fine thing standing over here?" he asked. The unknown man had a set of squinty eyes and a mouthful of decaying teeth. Strands of a plaid shirt hung from the man's naked shoulders. Scraps of worn out jeans were strapped around the man's hairy, pale thighs. Hailey stared into the dimly lit living room. She studied the unknown man's shaved head. She gazed into his pale, blue eyes.

"That's-- my little Hailey!" Hailey's mother shrieked. Hailey's mom's face was decorated with a pretentious, drunken smile. Hailey' mother stumbled off of a sunken, worn out couch. She stumbled across piles of empty beer bottles and old pizza boxes. Hailey's mom looked like a hideous skank. Her hair was short and dark brown. Crispy, three inch strands the color of coffee grounds poked out of Hailey's mom's pale scalp. The body of an old, sleeveless t-shirt hung from Hailey's mom's bony shoulders. Hailey was pretty sure she detected a slim band of denim strapped around her mother's crotch. At least-- she hoped her mother was wearing something on top of her private parts.

An extra tall, aluminum can hung from Hailey's mom's scrawny fingers. A lit cigarette poked out of her knuckles. The filter of Hailey's mom's cigarette was pressed against droplets formed along the surface of the aluminum can. The end of her smoke looked like it was lit previously. But, it had burned out. There was no telling how long it continued to hang from Hailey's mother's drunken fingers. Hailey's mom slung a set of wobbly arms around her daughter's shoulders. Hailey heard beer sloshing inside the can hanging from her mom's pasty digits. She felt tiny droplets spatter her neck. They reeked of barley and fermented yeast.

"It's so good--" Hailey's mom squeezed out. She plopped her bony fingers on baby blue fabric hanging from Hailey's shoulders. She squeezed Hailey's deltoids between scraggly, pale digits. It felt like being stabbed. Hailey's mom shoved herself back. She stumbled on balls of bare feet. Hailey's mother gazed into her daughter's emerald irises. She stared at the lenses of Hailey's glasses. "--to see you!" Hailey's mom shouted in her face. Hailey squinted. She turned her head. Her mother's breath was putrid. It was soaked with alcohol and fermented suds. Hailey squeezed her fingers around her mom's bony knuckles. She forced her mom's overly tight fingers off of her shoulders. "And, how-- WAS YOUR DAY?" Hailey's mother managed to spit out. Hailey forced herself to look into her mom's eyes. Her mother had blue eyes. Hailey's mom was so wasted, her pupils were the size of pin-heads. So, her irises looked more pale than usual.

"It was great, mom," Hailey responded. Hailey rested her mom's shaking fingers beside her pale hips. She leaned forward. She kissed her mom's sunken cheek. It was like kissing old, worn out leather. Hailey lifted a set of gloss coated lips beside her mother's ear. "Please, tell me that's not Larry over there," Hailey whispered. Hailey faced her mother. She stared into her mom's pale irises. "You told him not to ever come back. Remember?"

"Oh!" Hailey's mother yelped. She stumbled away from her daughter. She threw a set of clumsy hands on her naked hips. A fountain of foam poured out of the mouth of Hailey's mom's beer can. "Come on, Hailey," Hailey's mom whispered back. "He's on his best behavior."

Hailey motioned towards her mother's chest. "Mom," she rasped. "You remember what he did to me, right? You let him back in the house?" Hailey's mom lifted her beer can and the fingers of her free hand. She plopped ends of bony digits on tiny droplets coating the surface of the aluminum can.

"Hailey," Hailey's mother whispered. "We have-- no--" Hailey's mom wobbled her head back and forth. "We need-- the money." Hailey's mother shook her head. "We don't has money." She motioned towards Hailey's chest with the fingers of her free hand. "None." Hailey gazed into her mother's eyes. She shook her head.

"We've got to get you another job," she whispered back. Hailey exhaled a heavy breath. She folded her hands on top of her heart. "*I'll* go get a job, okay?" Hailey stared into her mom's pale irises. She shook her head. "But-- you have to get Larry out of here. Alright?" Hailey pointed towards the living room. "Who's this other guy?"

"Bah!" Hailey's mother barked. She stumbled back to the couch. She shooed Hailey's protests with bodies of scrawny fingers. She plopped down between Larry and the unknown man. Hailey's mom's eyes popped open. She smacked the unknown man's flabby bicep. "And this--" Hailey's mom explained. "This is Dan!" Dan lifted the fingers of his right hand. He waved, sarcastically. Dan snagged a beer bottle from the edge of a coffee table. He plopped the end of a brown, glass bottle against his lips. He tilted his bald head backwards.

Hailey glanced at Larry. Long, curly hairs poked out of Larry's black, sleeveless shirt. Coils of arm pit sprouts were visible thanks to flickers coming from the living room television. Larry's shirt was an exhibition of an eighties hard rock band. Hailey laid eyes on Larry's round, dumb looking face for the first time in four months. A patch of black hair grew out of a space above the middle of Larry's top lip. It looked like Adolf Hitler's mustache. A horseshoe of thick, black sprouts surrounded the edges of Larry's bald scalp. Irises like coals stared from the middle of Larry's fat face. Larry's piercing eyes were really close together. Hailey thought it made Larry look slightly retarded. He wasn't, though.

Tiny hairs stood up along the back of Hailey's neck. Hailey hoped she would never have to see Larry's hideous precipice again. And yet, there he sat-- in her house. Larry lifted his chin slightly. He narrowed his dark, retard eyes. The end of Larry's tongue poked out of his thick lips. Larry flicked his tongue like a snake. Hailey cringed. The blood drained out of her face. She felt like she was going to faint. Hailey's eyelids squeezed themselves together. Hailey faced her mother. She forced her eyelids apart.

"M-Mom--" Hailey squeezed out. Hailey's mom stared at flickering images on her old television set. She threw her skinny arms into the air.

"Wooooooooh!" Larry faced Dan. He pointed at him with the base of a beer bottle.

"You see?!" Larry shouted through laughter. "I-- I told you he'd get it!" Larry's slick cranium tilted back. It rested on his hairy shoulders. "Oh-ho!" Larry belched. "Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-haa!!"

"Shit, Larry!" Dan shouted. He dug his disoriented carcass out of the surface of Hailey's mom's worn out sofa. He removed a leather billfold from the back pocket of his jeans scraps. He took out a twenty dollar bill. He wadded it between a set of furious fingers. Dan turned and tossed the twenty at Larry's fat chest. "Last time I ever bet you-- lucky bastard!" Larry's fat fingers closed around a crumpled reserve note resting on the logo of an eighties hard rock band. Hailey studied Larry's oversized hand. It was the size of a catcher's mitt. Hailey stared at thick digits the size of bratwursts. She shivered.

She turned right. She snuck down a short hallway. She slithered through the first door on the left. Hailey collapsed on a chunk of wood guarding her bedroom. Tiny fingers extending from the end of Hailey's sweater sleeve searched the surface of her bedroom door. Tips of fingers spotted with crimson nail polish gripped a stud poking out of a bronze plated door knob. Hailey turned a flattened protrusion. She exhaled a nervous breath. She inhaled through pink, gloss coated lips. She breathed out through her nostrils. Hailey's head tilted back. The back of her skull collapsed on the surface of her bedroom door. Hailey closed her eyes.

Hailey rested on top of her bright red book bag. She slid down a slick surface covering the entrance to her bedroom. Hailey's tiny butt crushed pockets of birch stained khakis on cold tiles. Hailey opened her eyes. She was sitting on the floor. Hailey hooked her thumbs underneath the straps of her backpack. She looked around her bedroom. Hailey's room was her sanctuary at home. Hailey felt like her bedroom was the only decent place in the entire house.

Hailey's bedroom was large and elegant. Checkered, black and white tiles covered the floor. Sometimes, Hailey liked to imagine the floor of her bedroom was a giant chessboard. She always loved it. She swept and mopped it regularly. So, her bedroom floor was slick and shiny. Beside the far, right corner from Hailey's position stood an old, oak desk. Hailey's desk was coated with a rich, glamorous stain. A pencil cup, a white stapler, and a small, black desk lamp rested on the surface of Hailey's desk. Hailey's school papers and things were neatly organized into files. Folders filled with Hailey's work were sorted into drawers along the edges of Hailey's desk. A collection of paper clips, rubber bands, and brass plated brads filled a long drawer below the desk's surface.

Hailey's bed stood beside the far, left corner. The head of Hailey's mattress platform faced the left hand wall. Hailey made the bed that morning. A plaid quilt made from yellow and black checks laid across Hailey's mattress. A pillow stuffed inside a black pillowcase rested near the head of Hailey's bed. A red, velvet pillow laid beside both ends. A stuffed, calico kitten was plopped down near the middle of Hailey's bed. Hailey's dad gave her the plush toy when she was three. It was the only material thing Hailey had to remember her dad by. An oak night table stood beside the head of Hailey's bed frame. An alarm clock with a CD player rested on top. Hailey's bed table was stained dark to match her desk.

A large, perfectly square window was positioned between Hailey's bed and her desk. It was constructed close to the ceiling. The panes of Hailey's bedroom window were fitted inside a grid made of wooden dowels. Four vertical and horizontal lengths of oak formed the structure of Hailey's wall port. To open, the window swung towards the backyard on a hinge. Vertical veneer sections covered the lower halves of Hailey's bedroom walls. Slats covering Hailey's walls and reeds forming her window frame matched her desk and her night table. The top halves of Hailey's bedroom walls were painted white.

A wooden clock with Roman numerals hung above Hailey's bed. A poster of Einstein sticking his tongue out was tacked below that. A mosaic of Hubble snapshots was tacked to the opposite wall. Next to Hailey's bed was a closet with no doors. Hailey's closet was lined from top to bottom with the same veneer covering the bottom halves of the walls. It was framed with wood as well. An old, wood bookcase stood along the right wall. It was stained the same color as Hailey's desk. Everything from Dante to Alfred Hitchcock to Edgar Allan Poe to Mark Twain was stuffed into the shelves of Hailey's bookcase. Hailey also had a collection of advanced mathematics textbooks, books about grammar, science textbooks, and others.

Hailey closed her eyes. She inhaled a slow, deep breath through her nose. She detected a light, floral scent. It wafted from an electrical air freshener plugged into the wall beside the door. Hailey opened her eyes. She stood up. She walked to her desk. She dropped her backpack beside the left edge of her work table. She removed a set of keys from the front pocket of her khakis. She laid her keys along the left edge of her desk. She plopped down on the end of her mattress. She looked over her shoulder. Hailey snatched up her kitten. She laid the fluffy, stuffed toy on her lap. She slid tips of pale fingers across artificial sprouts poking out of the body of her stuffed kitty. Grooves formed into Hailey's fingertips glided across strands of light brown, black, and white yarn.

Hailey's head turned. Hailey looked out of her bedroom window. She dragged tips of crimson fingernails along synthetic fluffs. The sun was disappearing behind a worn out picket fence in the backyard. Several rotten, grey pickets were crooked due to missing nails. So, the sun peaked through the fence. Hailey studied the yard. An old swing set Hailey and her mother assembled rested on patches of dead grass. The swing set's paint was peeling off. One of the swing's chains was broken. And, the swing set's chains were all rusted. Hailey stared at flakes of iron oxide. She thought about Larry.

Hailey met Larry when she was nine. Larry was large and rough looking. So, Hailey was wary of him from the start. The fact that Larry was wasted when Hailey met him didn't help. Truthfully, Hailey couldn't recall a time when Larry was not intoxicated. During their first encounter, Hailey was sitting at a table in her house's tiny dining room. The dining room and the kitchen were the same room. The kitchen and dining area began where tan carpet from the living room became white tile. The dining area was understood to be near the front of the house. The kitchen was built along the rear.

Hailey wore a tiny, white sweater and a set of dark wash blue jeans. Hailey's britches were a little big for her. Hailey's emerald irises stared through a set of giant, circular lenses. Her pupils focused on a sheet of notebook paper. Hailey was filling a lined sheet with long division. Behind her, a microwave timer dinged. Hailey dropped off of a chair. She wandered into the kitchen. The soles of Hailey's tiny feet smacked white floor tiles like falling jellybeans. Hailey stood on her tip toes. She reached above the top of a tiny refrigerator. She retrieved a microwave pizza she chucked in the microwave. It rested on a paper plate. The microwave pizza was as big around as Hailey's tiny, pale face. Hailey balanced the miniature pizza on the surface of a paper plate. She smacked a plastic, microwave door with the fingers of her free hand. She snagged a can of cola from the refrigerator. She returned to her seat.

Hailey moved a page filled with long division. She laid a steaming, microwave pizza in its place. She opened the can of cola and took a sip. She rested her drink next to her pizza. The front door popped open. Hailey's mother stumbled in after it. She wasn't as skinny when Hailey was nine. But, she was always rail thin. Hailey's mom's ribs showed below a tight, red halter top. Her top was visible underneath a black, leather jacket. Hailey's mom staggered. She crashed into a wall. She fell on her butt. Her head turned, slowly. She faced her daughter. She cackled. Hailey's mom squeezed a set of smiling lips together. She stumbled to her feet. She swept long, brown hair out of her face. She reached into her coat pocket. She retrieved a pack of smokes. She popped a cigarette between her lips. Hailey's mom handed a coffin nail to someone outside. She produced a white, plastic lighter from the same jacket pocket. She lit the cigarette hanging from her mouth. Then, she reached outside. She lit the other person's cigarette. The stench of charred tobacco wandered across the living room. It irrited Hailey's sinuses. Hailey wrinkled burning eyes.

"I've just gotta go get somethingg--" Hailey's mother mumbled. She pointed at a person outside the front door. "I've gottaa-- GET SOMETHING." Hailey's mom pointed down the hall. She staggered in that direction. "I'll be-- I'll be--" she stuttered. She flapped sagging eyelids. She straightened up and shook her head. "I'll be right backk--" she managed to get out. "You can-- hang out here-- for just a second." Hailey's mom pointed towards the kitchen. "WITH MY KIDDO-- over there." Hailey's mom disappeared down the hallway. Larry stepped across the threshold. He turned and grabbed a doorknob. He eased a flimsy door inside a worn out frame. Larry wore a sleeveless t-shirt. Scraps of an old, black shirt hung from Larry's sweaty man tits and hairy back fat. A hard rock band's artwork decorated the surface of Larry's worn out shirt. Faded, ripped up jeans hung from Larry's thick legs.

Larry faced Hailey. Even back then, Larry had the same Hitler mustache and horseshoe shaped bald spot. Short, black hair stuck out of the edges of Larry's slick scalp. Larry looked at Hailey from the other end of the living room. He stared from a set of wide eyes. Irises like coals floated on tips of lemon shaped corneas. Hailey shivered. She felt like she was in a nightmare. She thought about jumping up and running away. But, she was too petrified to move. Larry continued gazing through wild, retard eyes. Tar shaded irises an inch apart gazed at glittering emeralds behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. Larry sipped a bottle of whiskey. He grinned. He was missing a few teeth. The gesture only added to Hailey's terror. In a way, Larry resembled a Jack-o-lantern.

"Hey there, kiddo," Larry remarked. Hailey stared. Her tiny lips wandered away from each other. Her eyelids drifted apart. Larry relaxed his dark eyes. Somehow, they still seemed like they were bulging out of his skull. "I said, 'Hey there'," Larry repeated

"H-Hi," Hailey squeezed out. Larry sucked the end of his cigarette. He puffed out a couple of smoke rings. Hailey relaxed a little. She faked a smile. Larry squinted. He gazed into Hailey's eyes through wild, analytical irises.

"You like that?" Larry inquired. Larry stepped away from the front door. He began creeping across the living room. He pointed at Hailey with the end of his cigarette. "You think-- you can do that?" Hailey's phony smile disintegrated. Hailey felt like dashing through the back door. But, she couldn't move. It was Larry's weird, retarded eyes. They were so-- dark and penetrating. Larry sat across from Hailey at a dining table. He had another puff from his stogie. He tapped ash off of the end. He offered the cigarette to Hailey. Hailey stared into wild, piercing irises that were an inch apart. Hailey's pupils wandered to a smoking cigarette hanging from Larry's thick fingers.

"Come on!" Larry barked. "You can do it, too!" Hailey stared into Larry's coal shaded irises. She tried to shake her head. Larry withdrew his freakishly large hand. He plopped his cigarette between his lips. He snagged a hold of Hailey's arm. Hailey stared at her tiny limb, helplessly. Larry's sausage shaped fingers squeezed shut around Hailey's scrawny wrist. Hailey's puny forearm shook nervously between Larry's giant, catcher mitt digits. With his other hand, Larry grabbed a hold of Hailey's tiny fingers. He forced back Hailey's flimsy sweater sleeve. He snatched the cigarette from his lips. Larry exhaled a cloud of nauseating mist. He inched his cigarette towards Hailey's wrist. A red, hot coal approached pale skin protecting the inner surface of Hailey's forearm. Hailey squirmed. Gaps in jagged teeth were visible between Larry's grinning lips. Whites of wild eyes showed along edges of coal shaded shutters. Hailey could feel smoldering tobacco singing her flesh. Hailey's mother's voice scattered her thoughts.

"Let's go!" Hailey's mom hollered. Larry yanked his cigarette away from Hailey's wrist. He let go of Hailey's tiny fingers. He turned on a chair seat and hopped up. Retarded irises glared into Hailey's pupils. Cruddy teeth poked out of a hideous grin. Larry dashed across the living room. He wrapped a set of thick, flabby biceps around Hailey's mother. He tossed Hailey's mom over his shoulder. He hurled the flimsy, front door out of his way. "LARRY!" Hailey's mother shrieked. Hailey's mom filled the living room with erratic laughter. Larry faced Hailey. Hailey's mom's frantic legs hung from Larry's hairy shoulder. Larry offered Hailey one last frosty gaze. Hailey cringed. Her shoulders hugged the edges of her scrawny neck. Larry laughed like a psycho.

"Ah-ha-haa! Ha-ha-ha-haa!" Larry dashed through an open door frame. He slammed the flimsy, front door behind him. A loud crack shook the walls. Hailey ripped her glasses off of her face. She dropped them on the dining table. She folded her arms beside her pizza. She buried her face in white sweater sleeves surrounding her wrists and biceps.

Hailey hoped she would never see Larry again. Instead, Larry became a regular part of her life. The only time Hailey got a break was when Larry and her mom were fighting. Hailey's mother began to show signs of abuse. Hailey noticed her mom covering up bruises with long clothing and black eyes with thick foundation. Any time Hailey asked about it, her mother told her not to worry. The sound of Larry and Hailey's mom screaming at each other woke Hailey up in the middle of the night several times. Hailey never saw Larry's abuse until she was eleven. She came home from school a little later than usual. Hailey spent a couple of hours studying with Wednesday at her house. A sudden breeze surprised Hailey on the way home. Sleeves of a red, silk shirt and legs of black, corduroy britches floated briefly on the backs of Hailey's limbs. Hailey hooked her thumbs under the straps of a black backpack. She looked at the sky. It was filled with black clouds. Lightning emerged from a point in the dark sky. It outlined the shape of a fisherman's net. A crackle split cold, empty air.

None of that interested Hailey. Hailey concentrated on terrified screaming. She looked in front of her. Her house was a block away. The screaming consisted of Hailey's mother crying in pain and Larry's angry shouting. Hailey slowed down. She debated whether she should go home. Her eyebrows collapsed above the bridge of her nose. Her tiny fingers balled into fists. She began sprinting. Hailey threw open her house's flimsy storm door. When she was eleven, the storm door was dressed with a decent screen. Hailey's mother lay on a blanket of tan carpet in the living room. She was sprawled across a pile of broken glass and twisted metal. The shattered remnants were once a coffee table. Blood gushed down Hailey's mom's sliced up face and arms. A ragged t-shirt and jean shorts strapped around Hailey's mom's shaking limbs were soaked with claret. Liquid crimson dripped onto the carpet. A bloody nose and a swollen eye poked out of Hailey's mother's face.

Hailey looked at Larry. Larry stared back. The body of a ripped up, hard rock t-shirt hung from Larry's thick, hairy shoulders. Blood drenched jeans were strapped around Larry's fat legs. Hailey glared at wild irises gazing below Larry's slick scalp. She studied jagged teeth poking out of Larry's grinning lips. Hailey threw her backpack on the floor. She charged at Larry in a frantic rage. Hailey snagged a hold of worn out fabric hanging from Larry's fat stomach. She pounded furious fists into Larry's thick flesh. Larry stared at flame shaded locks swinging from Hailey's scalp. A set of bushy brows lifted above Larry's eye sockets. Larry's fat fingers squeezed shut around Hailey's fire colored hair.

"You want some too, you little bitch?" Larry requisitioned. Hailey looked up. Sopping wet emeralds glared at Larry from the lenses of Hailey's glasses.

"Fuck you!" Hailey squeezed through rows of clenched teeth. Larry lifted Hailey by her hair. He dangled Hailey's tiny face in front of his. He glared into sparkling emeralds behind rectangular panes.

"Larry!" Hailey's mother shouted. She squirmed on shards of broken glass. "Don't!"

"Fuck me?" Larry belched. He turned. He lowered Hailey's tiny carcass beside his hip. "Fuck YOU!" Larry tossed Hailey across the living room. She collided with a pane of plate glass. It was fitted inside the frame of a patio door. Shards of crystalized silicates bowed away from Hailey's shoulders, face, and neck. Edges of transparent rhombuses sliced Hailey's soft flesh. Hailey landed in the backyard. She collapsed on chunks of plate glass. She rolled across sprouts of dead foliage. Larry watched Hailey crumple on top of disintegrating crystals. He stomped across the living room.

"What did you do?" Hailey's mother requisitioned. She crawled across broken glass and blood soaked carpet. "WHAT DID YOU DO?!"

"SHUT-UP, HELEN!!" Larry shouted back. He stepped through an empty patio door frame.

Hailey lay on bare dirt and sprouts of dried grass. Her body was throbbing. Pale skin covering Hailey's face, neck, and hands was badly lacerated. Hailey's strawberry shirt and corduroy pants were sliced to ribbons. Blood leaked out of slender gashes formed along Hailey's flesh. Bleeding shoulders, knees, and elbows poked out of slashed up fabric. Hailey's eyes popped open. Emerald shutters studied circular lenses surrounded by chrome plated frames. Hailey lifted a set of aching fingers. Droplets of hot crimson leaked from the ends of Hailey's fingertips. Throbbing, bleeding fingers snagged steel dowels poking out of the edges of Hailey's eyewear. Hailey lowered blood drenched discs in front of her eyes. She looked down. Remnants of Hailey's silk shirt hung from her frail body. Hailey's arms, stomach, and chest were all sliced up. Her tiny tits were exposed. Hailey flattened a blood soaked wrist on top of her tiny nipples. She looked up. She stared into Larry's terrifying irises.

"Oh, Godd--" Hailey forced out of trembling lips. Lightning crawled across dark clouds above Larry's smooth scalp. Larry bent over. He grabbed a hold of Hailey's hair. He dragged Hailey by her orange locks. Hailey's slashed up limbs glided across razor sharp panes and blades of dried grass. Hailey shrieked like a frightened puppy. She squeezed her tiny digits around Larry's thick, sausage fingers. She struggled to free herself. Larry lifted Hailey off of the ground by strands of fire erupting from her scalp. He tossed her next to her mom. Hailey's skull collided with the living room floor. It bounced like a basketball. "Ahhh--" Hailey wailed. "Shitt--" Hailey's mother squeezed a set of skinny, blood soaked arms around her daughter's tiny shoulders. She looked into Larry's eyes. Larry shrugged.

"Bitch wanted to fight." Larry reached into the front pocket of his jeans. He flipped a long, chrome handle against his knuckles. He flipped it on top of his thumb, swung it like a set of nunchucks, and squeezed it between his thick digits. A long blade poked out of the fingers of Larry's hand. Larry laid the tip of an ice cold knife blade on top of Hailey's throat. Hailey's mother tightened her arms around her daughter's shoulders. Wide, pale blue eyes stared at Larry from Helen's frightened face. Hailey's mom gnashed her teeth together.

"Stop it, Larry!" Hailey's mom shouted. Hailey studied a sharpened, chrome plate pointed at her blood soaked neck. Her eyes followed Larry's arm to his intimidating face. Larry sat next to Hailey's legs. He rested on the elbow of his free arm. He crushed the tip of his nose on top of Hailey's blood drenched nostrils. A set of angry lips lifted off of Larry's crooked teeth.

"Don't ever do anything like that again," Larry snarled. He dragged the tip of his butterfly knife down Hailey's throat. A sharp point glided across strips of strawberry silk. A slat of cold steel landed on the tip of Hailey's nipple. Larry sank the end of his knife into Hailey's tiny areola. Hailey's glittering, emerald eyes popped open. It felt like she was being stabbed in the chest. "Or, I'll cut your little titties off," Larry added. Larry stared into pupils behind blood stained lenses. He lifted his nose off of Hailey's. Then, he spit in her face. Hailey's eyes squeezed themselves shut. Hailey felt droplets of Larry's saliva sinking into lacerations carved along the edges of her cheeks. Larry lifted a six inch knife blade off of Hailey's pre-teen breast. He hopped up and hurried to the other end of the living room. He disappeared through the front door.

Hailey fidgeted on the end of her bed. She looked away from the setting sun. She studied a stuffed, calico kitten sitting on her lap. Hailey stared at big, blue eyes made of glass. She felt increasingly agitated. She slid the ends of her fingers across strands of imitation fur. She recalled an incident with Larry a few months back. She was fourteen. She was sitting on the surface of her bed, painting her toenails. She painted each tiny canvas a different color. Hailey studied dots of rainbow nail polish inside her mind. She shuddered. Fourteen year old Hailey wore a pink tank top and pink pajama bottoms decorated with white hearts. Hailey finished coating her final toenail. She noticed someone standing in her bedroom doorway. Hailey's head turned. Larry stood inside the entrance to Hailey's room. A hideous grin hung from Larry's Hitler mustache. Jack-o-lantern teeth showed between Larry's smiling lips. Hailey exhaled a long, uneasy sigh. She had no idea Larry was in the house. Hailey lowered a tiny brush into a glass bottle sitting on her bedside table. She threaded a plastic cap on top. She looked up.

"Get the fuck out of my room," Hailey ordered. Larry chuckled. He stepped into Hailey's room. He turned. He eased Hailey's bedroom door inside a stained, oak frame. As usual, a torn up hard rock t-shirt hung from Larry's broad shoulders. Ripped up jeans surrounded Larry's thick legs. Hailey's tiny fingers wadded around yellow and black checks surrounding her hips. Hailey squeezed chunks of plaid quilt beside pink and white hearts covering her thighs. "Larry!" Hailey shouted. Larry crept across checkered tiles. He stopped near the end of Hailey's bed. Hailey stared at Larry's grinning face. She exhaled heavy breaths through a set of clenched teeth. Hailey's heart thumped in her ears. Hailey was glued to her mattress. She was reminded of her first encounter with Larry-- when she was nine. Larry snagged a hold of Hailey's ankle. He dragged Hailey to the end of her bed.

"Ah!" Hailey shrieked. Hailey's legs dangled over the edge of her mattress. Her knees straddled Larry's calves. Larry squeezed his fat, catcher's mitt fingers around Hailey's cheeks. He tilted Hailey's head back. Hailey supported herself with a set of frightened palms. She exhaled horrified yelps through wadded, crushed up lips. "Mrr! Mrrr!" Hailey squeezed through wrinkled mouth edges. Larry bent over. He forced his fat lips against Hailey's. Hailey groaned into the edges of Larry's digusting mouth. "Mmm--" she forced out of squooshed cheeks. Hailey squeezed frustrated eyelids together. She struggled to turn her face. Larry tightened his fingers around Hailey's soft cheeks. "Mrrahh!" Hailey shouted into Larry's mouth. Larry forced his knees beside Hailey's hips. He shoved Hailey against the surface of her mattress. He flattened his face on top of Hailey's. He tilted his head.

"Larry?!" Hailey's mother screamed from the doorway. Larry yanked his lips off of Hailey's. His head spun like a top. Hailey's desparate lips extended from the tips of Larry's fingers. Wadded mouth edges sucked up panicked breaths.

"Haaa--" Hailey breathed out. "Haaaa--" Hailey inhaled fresh air. "Haaaaaa--" Hailey's mom wore a hot pink haltar top. A set of faded, bell bottom jeans hung from Helen's scrawny hips. Hailey's mother pointed between Larry's retard eyes.

"You're a fucking pervert!" she shouted. Larry slid off the end of Hailey's mattress. He spun on soles of old, cruddy boots. He lifted fat, sausage fingers beside his hairy shoulders.

"Helen, I--" Larry stuttered. "She-- She-- came on to me!" Larry wiggled his fiery face. "I-I don't know what happened!" Hailey sat up. She plopped nervous, sweaty palms on heart shaped polka dots decorating the thighs of her britches. She exhaled a shaky breath. She forced a set of jiggling lips apart.

"H-He's-- lying--" Hailey forced out. She filled her lungs with air. She breathed out a heavy sigh. She looked up. Tears dribbled out of the corners of Hailey's emerald green eyes. Hailey's mom glared into Larry's eyes. She pointed towards the hallway.

"Get out!" she shouted. Larry stabilized his thick fingers beside unapologetic shoulders. He grinned and shook his head.

"Helenn--" Larry groaned.

"OUT!" Hailey's mom shouted. Larry's face turned cold. His fat, catcher's mitt hands dropped on his hips. Piercing coals stared from the bridge of Larry's nose. Larry gazed into Helen's pale, blue eyes.

"No," he coldly replied. Hailey's mother stared into Larry's coal shaded irises. She stomped into the hallway. She headed towards the back of the house. Larry turned around. He studied Hailey's colorful face. Hailey shuddered. She forced frightened emeralds to the tops of her jiggling eye sockets. Larry stuck out his tongue. He fluttered it like a snake. Hailey cringed. Her undressed shoulders hugged the edges of her neck. Hailey looked at her lap. She watched goosebumps poke out of the surfaces of her arms. "You see?" Larry requisitioned. Hailey stared at pale skin covering her wrists. She looked up. Larry smirked. "I can do whatever I want." Larry began cackling. "Heh-heh-hehh, heh-heh-heh-hehh-hehhh--"

Hailey's mother pressed the end of a pistol against Larry's temple. Larry stopped giggling. Coal shaded shutters wandered to the corners of Larry's eyes. Larry studied the body of a chrome plated boot pistol. It was a tiny, 9MM gun that stored two rounds. Larry had no idea Hailey's mom owned one.

"Uhh--" Larry squeezed out.

"Get the fuck out of my house, Larry," Helen ordered. Larry stared, dumbly. "Larry!" Helen shrieked. "Do you think I'm playing with you?! Get out!" Larry opened his mouth to speak. Nothing came out. Larry's eyes popped open. He slid the edge of his skull away from a set of barrels aimed at his frontal lobe. He walked backwards towards the door to Hailey's room. He showed Hailey's mom a set of fat, non-threatening palms.

"H-Helen--" Larry forced out. He eased his bald, retarded looking face back and forth. "Think about what you're doing." Hailey's mother fired a warning shot beside Larry's cheek. A 9MM round crashed into a wall surrounding the hallway.

"Get out of here, Larry!" Helen shrieked. Larry skedaddled. Hailey heard the soles of Larry's boots thumping all the way to the front door. "And don't you EVER come back!" Hailey's mom added. The front door opened. It slammed shut. Hailey's mother looked over her shoulder. Hailey's frightened eyes stared back through rectangular lenses surrounding the bridge of her nose. Hailey exhaled a shaky breath.

"W-Where did you get a gun?" Hailey asked. Hailey's mom faced the opening to Hailey's bedroom. She slid the pistol into the front pocket of her jeans.

"It was your dad's," Hailey's mom responded. She breathed out a heavy sigh. "I can take care of myself." Helen licked her lips. She shook her head. "I don't need this shit, anymore." Hailey stared at her mother's hand. Jiggling digits hung from the ends of Helen's bony knuckles. Hailey watched her mom's nervous fingers wobbling. Then, Hailey's mother calmly left her bedroom. She locked Hailey's door behind her.

That was a few months earlier-- when Hailey was fourteen. Her mother told Larry never to come back. Now, Hailey was fifteen. And, here Larry was in her living room. The other end of the house thumped with drunken laughter. It made Hailey shiver. Hailey looked out of her bedroom window. The sun was almost down. Hailey figured she put off studying long enough. She laid her stuffed kitty near the middle of her bed. She wandered to her backpack. She took out her Algebra II book. She dropped the textbook on her desk. She opened the top drawer along the right edge of the desk. She took out a few sheets of blank notebook paper. She snagged a wooden pencil from her pencil cup. She turned on a black desk lamp. She had a seat. Hailey suspended lined paper between her palms. She stacked it against the surface of her desk. She rested the stack of paper next to her pencil. She opened her book. Another sickening roar came from the living room. Hailey looked up. She stared into space.

Hailey unzipped a compartment fastened to the edge of her backpack. She snagged the CD Wednesday gave her that afternoon. She studied her friend's handwriting. It read "Blades - Winter's Queen." Hailey smiled. Hailey opened the CD player beside her bed. She forced the disc onto a shaft beside a laser device. Hailey closed her alarm clock. She sat on the edge of her mattress. She bent over. She untied white laces strapping her shoes around her feet. She arranged her white, canvas sneakers next to others in her closet. Then, she returned to her night table. She pressed a button attached to the top of her CD player. Creepy music like demented church organs slowly rose in volume. Hailey smirked. She thought the cliche introduction was predictable as hell. Hailey headed for her desk. A growl from Hailey's stomach stopped her in her tracks. Hailey patted baby blue fabric covering her flat stomach.

"Oh, rightt--" Hailey groaned. She forgot about dinner. Hailey opened a drawer below the surface of her nightstand. It was stuffed with warm sodas, bottled water, cream filled sponge cakes, bags of chips, candy bars, and other snacks. Hailey snagged a package of peanut butter crackers and a bottle of water. She returned to her desk.




Chapter 3: "Aphasia"
Table of Contents

Mathematics was Hailey's favorite scientific tool. Hailey enjoyed all things intellectual. But, she especially loved math. She enjoyed doing math-- whether it was schoolwork or something in her spare time. Hailey owned numerous technical books discussing the subject. She started studying mathematics when she was young. And, she didn't plan on stopping. When it came to math, Hailey had seen and done it all. But when Hailey studied for a simple Algebra II test, she spent plenty of time preparing. She switched between three books, solving various problems. Similar quandaries would be on Ms. Gord's test in a couple of days.

Hailey's studying went well. Hailey was confident she would do fine on Ms. Gord's exam. She still planned to do additional studying the following night. Hailey sat in bed, painting her nails pink. The crimson nail polish she was wearing was almost gone. It was past ten o'clock. Hailey wore blue pajama bottoms with white stripes. A white tank top was stretched over Hailey's trim stomach and tiny tits. Hailey finished her fingernails and the nails on her left foot. She was painting the big toe of her right foot.

A sudden noise in the living room disrupted Hailey's train of thought. Hailey looked around. For the second time, Winter's Queen had stopped playing. Hailey decided to play it again. She reached above her night table. Tiny fingertips coated with pink acrylic smacked a button on Hailey's CD player. Hailey didn't necessarily enjoy listening to Blades of Sloth. But, listening to the album Wednesday gave her was more pleasing than barbaric roars of obnoxious drunks. The ends of Hailey's fingers surrounded a white, plastic cap. A tiny brush poked out of the polystyrene top. Hailey dipped a dry brush into a glass bottle resting beside her CD player. Hailey stroked pink acrylic onto a tiny canvas covering the end of her second toe.

"The one that stayed home," Hailey joked. Hailey covered her second toenail. She dropped the brush in the bottle on her night table. She quickly coated her third, fourth, and fifth toenails. She returned the tiny brush to its bottle. She rested her heels near the end of her bed. That way, her nail polish could dry.

Hailey plopped her head on a pillow covered with a black sham. She stared into space. Hailey swirled fingers coated with wet acrylic in front of her eyes. She crossed her wrists and turned her palms backwards. She wove her fingers together. She folded them over the ends of her knuckles. Satanic organ music became a ghostly ambiance of wind sounds. Hailey closed her eyes. She delighted slightly in evil tunes her friend shared with her. She worried she would have to admit that to Wednesday. A haunting, electric keyboard solo began. Sudden fits of bass added a dramatic effect. Hailey's smile faded. A sense of peace washed over her. But then, an argument ensued in the living room.

The argument was so loud, Hailey could hear people screaming more than the music she was playing. What started as a calm disagreement transformed into a furious howl. Hailey sat up. A set of wide eyes stared out of the lenses of Hailey's glasses. Larry's ferocious voice rattled the walls. He shouted obscenities at the other guy, Dan. Dan screamed cuss words back. It was getting ugly. Hailey debated whether to walk into her family room and try to calm everybody down.

"Yeah, right," Hailey scoffed. She spun her legs. Slim calves wrapped in blue and white stripes dangled over the edge of Hailey's bed. Hailey increased her CD player's volume. "Maybe I'll just throw that fuckin'-- heavy bastard out on his ass while I'm at it." Hailey was scared shitless of Larry. Larry was horrifying for many reasons. But mainly-- he was so much bigger than Hailey was. He could wring Hailey like a sponge. Hailey couldn't do anything about it. Hailey interlocked her fingers behind her head. She laid down. She grinned. She could barely hear the loudmouths in the living room. Hailey tried to concentrate on music in her bedroom and not hapless stupidity down the hall.

Hailey did something right. She heard the front door slam. All was quiet. Things stayed that way for several minutes. Hailey's mouth stretched open. She filled her lungs with air until they burned. She exhaled a heavy breath. Hailey killed the tunes. She set her alarm for 5:30. Hailey walked across her room. She turned off a light switch beside her bedroom door. She skated across checkered tiles. She slid underneath a blanket of yellow and black checks the size of floor tiles. Hailey laid her glasses on the night table. She plopped her head on a pillow near the beginning of her bed.

Things were not as tranquil as Hailey hoped. On the opposite end of the house, Larry stood facing the front door. The living area was a tomb. Larry spun on toes of cruddy boots. He studied Hailey's mother. Helen sank into the surface of a worn out couch. Hailey's mom passed out drunk a half hour earlier. She crashed shortly before Dan skidded away in his pickup. Larry stared into silent darkness. He smirked.

Larry's eager eyes studied Helen's frail body. Skinny thighs extended from Helen's bony hips. A set of ripped up jean shorts barely covered Helen's crotch. Hailey's mom laid on her left side in a fetal position. The tops of Helen's bony knees crushed her tiny tits against her ribs. Helen's scrawny, malnourished biceps hung from shoulders of a ratty t-shirt. Helen's rotting top was missing its sleeves. The t-shirt's collar and its base were also chopped off. Chunks of short, brown hair poked out of Helen's pale scalp. Larry studied the back of Hailey's mom's neck. Light from Helen's television illuminated peaks of vertebrae poking through her thin skin.

Larry wasn't very interested in Helen's bony carcass. He could have sex with her all he wanted while she was passed out. Larry did that all the time. But, Larry wasn't sure he wanted to waste his time with table scraps. A young, sweet, innocent thing was waiting for Larry down the hall. Why would he stick his dick in a pile of chicken bones when he could suckle Hailey's teenage breasts and stink up her fresh, clean pussy? At least, Larry assumed Hailey had a clean pussy. If Hailey was anything like her mom, well--

Larry was in a perfect position to get what he wanted. He got rid of Dan. And, Hailey's mom was out cold. A freight train couldn't wake her up. Larry knew it couldn't. He dropped a little something in Helen's beer. And, well-- Helen didn't usually wake up when Larry did that. There was no sense in creeping around. Larry just needed to trample into Hailey's room and have his way with her. There was nothing stopping him.

Larry snuck across white tiles covering the floor of Helen's kitchen. He studied a wooden block beside the kitchen sink. White handles five inches long poked out of two inch slots. Larry's fat fingers lifted a plastic grip the length of a travel comb. A cold slat slid out of a two inch gap. A razor thin edge curved and became a sharp point. The body of a ten inch butcher's knife hung from fat fingers the size of bratwursts. Retarded looking irises studied sharpened steel from the bridge of Larry's nose. Larry inhaled frosty air. He exhaled heavy breaths below a Hitler shaped lip patch.

Larry opened a drawer below Helen's kitchen knives. It was full of junk. Larry quietly scooped out boxes of batteries, twist ties, old rubber bands, and oddly shaped screws. Larry's catcher's mitt digits surrounded edges of silver tape. A roll of fresh duct tape an inch thick was waiting along the bottom of Helen's kitchen drawer. It was still in the package.

Hailey flopped like a fish on the surface of her mattress. She supported herself with the fingers of her right hand. Hailey's checkered quilt wadded around her hips. Hailey wasn't sure what was going on. But, she knew something was wrong. Her bedroom lights turned on. Something was fucked up. Hailey snatched her glasses off of her night table. She dropped rectangular lenses in front of emeralds surrounding the bridge of her nose. She looked beside the far end of her closet. The door to Hailey's bedroom laid on checkered tiles beside the end of Hailey's desk. Larry's cruddy boot dropped on top.

Larry's hideous face peeked around a corner along the end of Hailey's closet. Tufts of black hair formed a horseshoe along the perimeter of Larry's slick scalp. Larry stared into Hailey's emerald irises. He grinned. Hideous teeth poked out of Larry's smiling lips. Hailey froze. She stared into shiny coals sunken into the middle of Larry's Jack-o-lantern face. Hailey swiveled her hips. She supported herself with her elbows.

"N-No--" Hailey squeezed out of trembling lips. Larry tilted his head. He nodded.

"Uhh-- yes," he responded. Hailey shoved herself to her feet.

"NOO!!" she repeated. Hailey balanced on the surface of her mattress. She pointed between Larry's retard eyes. "You-- You--" Larry stepped around the end of Hailey's closet. Hailey spotted the blade of a sharp kitchen knife hanging from Larry's fat fingers. Larry stopped beside the edge of Hailey's dismantled door. He lifted a roll of duct tape in front of hard rock artwork decorating his disheveled t-shirt. He squeezed the edge of a silver strand two inches wide. He unstrapped twelve inches of sticky filaments. Hailey's frightened finger pointed at a tiny gap between Larry's eyes. Hailey's arm went limp. The heel of Hailey's palm collapsed on blue and white stripes covering her thigh. "Aww, fuckk--" Hailey snarled. Larry unstrapped another foot of silver tape. His lips curled into a hideous smirk. Larry chuckled.

"Heh-huh-huh-huh-huhh--" Hailey's apricot brows wrinkled the outer corners of her eye sockets. Hailey sucked panicked breaths through nervous lips.

"Ohh-- fuck!!" Larry dropped the roll of tape on checkered tiles. He shivered with chuckles. Hailey felt like she was going to have an asthma attack. She stopped breathing. Her eyes popped open. She turned her head. She looked above her undressed shoulder. "M-Mom?!" Hailey shouted. She faced forward. Larry stared into Hailey's eyes. He licked a set of grinning lips. Hailey looked over her shoulder. "MOOOMM! HEEELPP!!" Hailey shrieked. Larry lifted his foot. He shifted towards the end of Hailey's bed. Hailey faced forward. She pointed between Larry's eyes. "NOO!!" she screamed. "NO! YOU-- STOP!!" Larry looked at the floor. He smiled and shook his head. "MOOOOOOOOOMMM!!" Hailey called over her shoulder.

"Heh-heh-heh-hehh--" Larry chuckled. He faced Hailey. He lifted his fingers beside his flabby biceps. "Hailey," Larry interjected. "Hailey!"

"MOOOOOOOMM!" Hailey shouted through a shaky throat. Hailey faced forward. Her eyebrows crushed the outer corners of her eye sockets. Hailey exhaled tiny sobs on ends of short breaths. Larry tilted his head. He gazed into Hailey's emerald irises. He lifted his fingers. A long strand of duct tape dangled from Larry's fingertips.

"Hailey, she's out cold," Larry explained. "She's out cold." Larry dropped fat fingers on ripped up denim strapped around his upper legs. Larry shrugged. "Th-This is going to happen." Larry shook his head. "Sooner or later." Hailey hopped off the edge of her mattress. She scampered across checkered tiles beside her closet. She heaved like she was about to have a heart attack.

"Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!" Hailey exhaled on peaks of shallow breaths. Larry lifted the body of the kitchen knife. He pointed the end of a sharp, steel blade at a space between Hailey's sparkling, green eyes.

"Whoa--" Larry purred. "No-No--" Larry's bratwurst fingers snagged a hold of flimsy fabric stretched around Hailey's stomach. Larry wadded the trunk of Hailey's white tank top in a catcher's mitt fist. He stretched Hailey's shirt so tight, it became a harness. Hailey stopped dead in her tracks. Her face collided with Larry's fat bicep. Her slender arms tied themselves into knots around Larry's thick stomach.

"Mrrr!" Hailey shrieked into a tube of thick, hairy hide. Hailey squirmed against Larry's hefty body. Her head tilted back. Frightened emeralds stared out of glass rectangles. Hailey exhaled heavy, panicked breaths. Larry aimed a razor sharp point at a gold plated dowel suspended between the lenses of Hailey's glasses. Larry's hideous face wandered side to side.

"No-no-no-no-no--" Larry purred. Hailey's irises focused on hardened steel pointed between her eyes. Hailey stopped breathing so she could swallow nervous spit. Larry's cold eyes stared at glittering emeralds behind panes of glass. Larry inhaled musty air. He exhaled an excited breath. Larry reached up with his free hand. Larry's fat, catcher's mitt fingers squeezed shut on top of Hailey's lips. Terrified eyes poked out of Larry's thick fist. Hailey exhaled muffled breaths into the surface of Larry's sweaty palm. Larry twisted the kitchen knife below the fingers of his right hand. The point of a ten inch blade rotated in front of the lenses of Hailey's glasses. "Now, now--" Larry purred. "Now listen to me, Hailey," Larry explained. "Now if you start screaming again, I'm gonna have to tape your mouth shut." Emeralds wandered erratically near the middles of Hailey's eyes. Larry focused on wandering pupils behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. Bushy, black eyebrows lifted above the peaks of Larry's eye sockets.

"Back-- up," Larry instructed. Hailey stopped breathing. She stared into Larry's coal shaded irises. Larry's eyebrows flattened the peaks of his eye sockets. "Hailey," he warned. "Back UP." Larry shoved Hailey's cheeks towards the edge of her mattress. "Back up!" Hailey stumbled on surfaces of slick tiles. She plopped down on the end of her bed. Larry tightened his thick fingers around Hailey's cheeks. He shoved her head towards the surface of her mattress. He climbed on top of her. Larry surrounded Hailey's hips with his thick calves. Larry lifted Hailey's face. He steadied her frightened precipice in front of his lips. "Haaa--" Larry exhaled. He grinned. "That's more like it." Larry reached behind ginger strands growing out of the back of Hailey's scalp. He yanked a strand of tape off of his fingers. Hailey whimpered into the surface of Larry's thick palm.

"Enh! Enh!" Larry snapped. He shook Hailey's pale face. "Haileyy--" Hailey struggled to compose herself. "Hailey!" Hailey stopped panicking. Wandering irises like birthstones focused on Larry's hideous face. Larry inhaled through his nostrils. He exhaled into his Hitler mustache. "Now," Larry explained. "I'm gonna let go of your lips." Larry licked his fat lips. "Alright?" Hailey squeezed panicked breaths between the surface of Larry's palm and soft skin covering her cheeks. "And, I want you to keep your mouth shut." Larry repositioned the kitchen knife between his fingers. "Okay?" Hailey's eyes relaxed. Her pupils stared into space. Hailey's emerald irises focused on vertical boards tacked to the walls of her closet. Larry watched Hailey's colorful face. He relaxed his fingers. His palm drifted off the ends of Hailey's lips. Larry's catcher's mitt fingers dropped on shredded denim strapped around his thigh. He nodded. "Alright." Hailey licked her lips. She studied checkered tiles covering the floor of her bedroom. She felt her chest heaving. Waves of chest compressions turned into frightened cries. Before Hailey knew what happened, she was filling her bedroom with terrified shrieks.

"Ahh!" Hailey shouted. "Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!" Larry quickly strapped a set of bratwurst digits around the lower half of Hailey's face. Hailey continued squeezing muffled screams into the surface of Larry's palm. Larry squeezed Hailey's soft cheeks. He shook her frightened face.

"Aww, Haileyy--" Larry sighed. "Oh, mann-- I really didn't wanna do this to you. Because--" Larry tilted his head. His piercing irises floated to the peaks of his eye sockets. Larry smiled. Crooked teeth showed between Larry's grinning lips. "You knoww--" Larry looked into Hailey's eyes. "I-- like looking at your pretty face so much." Larry jiggled Hailey's skull. "You know?"

"Mmm--" Hailey groaned into Larry's thick palm. Pale skin covering the top half of Hailey's face turned beat red. Larry rested his chin beside the apple of Hailey's right cheek. He shut his eyes.

"You know, Haileyy--?" Larry purred. Larry shook his fat, balding head. Larry's eyebrows lifted above his closed eyelids. "I just wanna--" The edge of Larry's face glided across Hailey's cheek. Thick stubble sanded Hailey's soft, pale skin. Larry's tongue poked out of his fat lips. Larry's saliva coated mouth flesh sank into pale skin protecting the edge of Hailey's face. Tips of soaking wet taste buds grinded velvet flesh covering Hailey's cheek bone.

"Mrrrrr--!" Hailey snarled. Larry looked into Hailey's eyes. He smiled. He inhaled through gaps in his teeth.

"But, you gave me no choice." Larry let go of Hailey's lips. He snatched a strip of duct tape off of Hailey's plaid quilt. He stretched it between the fingers of his left hand and thick digits holding the handle of a butcher's knife. Larry steadied a sticky strand below the tip of Hailey's nose. He plopped a foot long sheet of duct tape over the edges of Hailey's mouth. Larry patted ends of silver filaments on top of Hailey's soft cheeks. He studied Hailey's lips. Hailey exhaled exhausted breaths through her tiny nostrils. Horrified emeralds studied Larry's piercing irises. A corner of the duct tape strand lifted off of Hailey's cheek. A half inch strip near the end of Hailey's muzzle curled away from Hailey's pale skin. Larry tilted his head. He sighed.

"That always happens." Larry looked behind him. The tape roll laid on a black tile two feet away. Larry reached back. He poked the end of the kitchen knife into a circular gap surrounded by silver strands. Larry steadied the blade of the kitchen knife in front of Hailey's face. A thick roll of silver tape hung from a razor sharp point. Larry watched Hailey's emerald green eyes. He grinned. He snatched a tape roll off the end of the knife blade. He unstrapped eighteen inches of silver strands in front of Hailey's terrified face. The unwinding tape sounded like someone tearing a set of jeans in half. Larry plopped a sticky strap on top of the one covering Hailey's mouth. He unraveled more below Hailey's earlobe. Larry's thick fingers traveled underneath orange locks hanging from the back of Hailey's scalp. Larry unwound additional tape until his fingers returned to Hailey's lips. He continued around the edge of Hailey's cheek.

"Mmmm--" Hailey groaned into a sticky surface of filaments. Larry wound tape around Hailey's head a second time. He plopped more tape on top of Hailey's lips. He wound a third strand around the lower half of Hailey's head. Then, he strapped a fourth. Then, he unraveled one more. Hailey's exhausted head tilted back. Hot, steamy tears dribbled out of the corners of her eyes. Larry's fingers tore sticky filaments strapped to Hailey's cheeks off the end of the tape roll. Larry placed the roll of duct tape beside vertical stripes surrounding Hailey's left hip. He looked into Hailey's eyes. He smiled.

Larry scooted Hailey's plaid quilt out of the way. He tossed Hailey onto the surface of her bed. He climbed on top of her. He straddled Hailey's hips with his knees. Larry studied Hailey's breasts. A pair of mounds the size of orange halves stretched Hailey's tank top away from the surface of her chest. Larry slid the fingers of his right hand up vertical strips stretched around Hailey's stomach. Ends of chubby digits squeezed shut between Hailey's tiny tits. Larry's hand was so big and fat, he grabbed both of Hailey's titties in one handful. Hailey arched her back. Eyelids behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses squeezed themselves shut. Hailey groaned into an adhesive muzzle. Larry's head tilted back. Larry closed his eyes.

"Awww-- Haileyy--" Larry purred. Larry inhaled through his fat lips. He exhaled an excited breath. "Jeez--" Larry kicked off his cruddy boots. They dropped beside the end of Hailey's bed. Larry slid his fat fingers under the base of Hailey's tank top. He sank surfaces of thick digits into Hailey's soft stomach. The back of Larry's skull rested between his hairy shoulder blades. Larry's closed eyelids wrinkled. "Haaa--" Larry groaned. Hailey squirmed. She squeezed her fingers between the bottoms of her breasts and ends of fat fingers sliding up her shirt. Larry looked down. His retard eyes studied Hailey's face.

"Ohhh--" Larry purred. "You're gonna be a little cunt?" Hailey squeezed her tiny fingers around ends of sweaty sausages forcing their way under the base of her tank top. Larry's thick eyebrows wandered up his slick forehead. "You're gonna be a little cunt??" Larry requisitioned. He bent over. Inner corners of bushy brows pointed at a tiny space between Larry's eyes. Larry squeezed sets of jagged teeth together. "Alright-- be that way!" Larry shoved his fingers under the chest of Hailey's shirt. His fat digits forced Hailey's tiny hands out of the way. Larry stretched Hailey's tank top over the tips of her breasts. He stared at tiny nipples poking out of Hailey's tits. Thick lips below dark, angry eyes formed a hideous smile. Larry's Jack-o-lantern teeth poked out of the edges of his grinning mouth. "Ha-haa!" Larry chuckled. Larry forced Hailey's shoulders against the surface of her mattress. He dragged Hailey's white top over her colorful face.

"Mmmm!" Hailey groaned into a silver strand wound below the tip of her nose. Larry slung Hailey's scrawny forearms and biceps above her head. He forced spaghetti straps over Hailey's elbows. He rotated the upper half of Hailey's body ninety degrees. He rolled Hailey's white top to her wrists. Hailey whimpered. Her head turned. Hailey's duct taped face looked into Larry's eyes above her naked shoulder. Hailey pleaded with emerald irises. Larry wrangled Hailey's tank top away from the ends of her tiny fingers. Hailey wriggled between Larry's knees. She struggled to free herself. Larry mashed angry lips together.

"Oh, you little--" Larry reached behind him. He grabbed the roll of tape. He unstrapped ten inches of silver filaments in front of Hailey's chest. He bent over. "I can't believe you're making me do this to you, Hailey," Larry remarked. "I really didn't want this to go this way." Larry squeezed Hailey's hips and thighs between his fat knees and thick calves. Hailey dragged the upper half of her body towards her night table. She wadded her tiny fingers around a black sheet covering her mattress. She supported herself with a set of tight fists. She looked into Larry's eyes. Apricot brows compressed the outer corners of Hailey's eye sockets. Frightened emeralds begged for compassion. Larry's fat fingers squeezed shut around Hailey's tiny digits. They forced Hailey's wrists above her head. The heels of Hailey's palms hung from the fingers of Larry's left hand. Larry stretched Hailey's biceps and forearms above flame colored strands hanging from her scalp. He strapped tape around the ends of Hailey's wrists. Larry wound a roll of tape below the beginnings of Hailey's palms several times. He broke the end of a silver strand with his jagged teeth.

"Ahhh--" Larry sighed. "Now--" Larry squeezed his fat fingers around the edges of Hailey's elbows. He slid ends of catcher mitt digits down the undersides of Hailey's biceps. He sank palms and surfaces of bratwursts into Hailey's perfectly smooth armpits. The heels of Larry's giant palms climbed to the peaks of Hailey's tiny tits. Larry tilted his head back. He exhaled a gratified breath. "Ahhhhh--" Hailey forced a set of bound wrists in front of her struggling face. She crushed undressed ribs with her biceps. Hailey rotated her naked chest away from Larry's disgusting fingers. Larry's sweaty palms felt Hailey's breasts slide away. Larry looked down. A set of furious emeralds glared at Larry from the corners of Hailey's eyes. Hailey laid on her right shoulder. Tiny, duct taped hands squeezed together in front of Hailey's frustrated face. Hailey exhaled shallow breaths from her tiny nostrils. Larry's piercing irises glared at emerald shaded shutters. Strands of black hair poked out of a horseshoe surrounding Larry's bald scalp. Bushy eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Larry's nose. Larry's lips forced themselves into a hideous grin. Putrid breath puffed out of spaces between Larry's smiling teeth.

"You are a fiesty little thing," Larry remarked. "Aren't you?" Larry smirked. His smile faded. It became something more intense. Larry shoved his knees away from Hailey's hips. He dropped off the end of Hailey's mattress. He reached below the base of his hard rock t-shirt. He unbuttoned his jeans. Larry's dark eyes stared at Hailey's face below flattened eyebrows. "I'm gonna get what I came for, you little fuck." Larry dropped wads of faded denim around ankles of white crew socks. He pulled the body of his worn out t-shirt over his slick scalp. Larry's hairy chest and stomach erupted from a set of white underwear. Larry's tighty whiteys were strapped around a set of hairy cheeks and a big, fat dick. Larry's weiner was even bigger around than his bratwurst shaped fingers.

Hailey rested taped up wrists beside the edge of her naked chest. She forced herself off the surface of her bed. Hailey's angry face glared at Larry above the tip of her undressed shoulder. Hailey shook her head. Larry parked beside the end of Hailey's mattress. His fat fingers squeezed shut around the ends of Hailey's pantlegs. Larry stretched striped tubes over the ends of Hailey's freshly painted toenails. He dragged the waist of Hailey's britches down her calves. He forced it around Hailey's heels and insteps. Hailey slid her feet away from the edge of the bed. She curled naked calves and heels below her thighs. Larry tossed Hailey's pajama bottoms into her closet. He scrambled to the middle of Hailey's mattress. He strapped sweaty bratwursts around Hailey's ankles. He dragged Hailey to the middle of her bed.

Hailey rolled onto her right shoulder. She buried her face in the surface of her mattress. Larry sank his fingers into Hailey's soft belly flesh. He squeezed fat digits inside the waist of Hailey's panties. A hot pink waist band was stretched above Hailey's hips. A wedge of elastic fabric the color of Larry's crew socks descended from a hot pink belt strapped below Hailey's bellybutton. A triangular crotch made of cotton covered Hailey's labia. It disappeared between the beginnings of Hailey's legs. Matching hot pink bands secured the leg holes of Hailey's panties to the tops of her thighs. An image of a cartoon kitty was printed on the surface of Hailey's pink and white underwear. Larry's catcher's mitt fingers slid beneath the waist of Hailey's drawers. They dragged elastic, cartoon embellished fabric down Hailey's pale thighs. Hailey squirmed. Larry slid Hailey's underwear to her ankles. He yanked soft panties off the ends of Hailey's toes.

Hailey rolled onto her right side. She supported herself with duct taped wrists. She hid her face from Larry's prying eyes. Larry straddled Hailey's undressed knees. He shoved his fat fingers between the backs of Hailey's thighs. He laid ends of bratwurst digits along the top of Hailey's crotch. He flattened the fingers of his other hand along the small of Hailey's back. The tips of Larry's catcher's mitt fingers sank into mounds of flesh covering Hailey's labia. Hailey cringed. Her head slowly turned. Exhausted eyelids peeled off of frustrated emeralds. Larry's fat digits slid to the bottoms of Hailey's pussy lips. Larry glided the ends of his fingers along a seam separating the halves of Hailey's outer labia.

"Daamn--" Larry purred. "You are juicy, girl." Larry looked up. Hailey's angry, emerald eyes stared back from the lenses of her glasses. Hailey's soft lips quivered below a blanket of sticky tape. Larry's fingers compressed soft back flesh above Hailey's tiny butt. Larry sank his fingers between Hailey's pussy lips. He dragged ends of bratwursts across mucus soaked meat. "I think you might be enjoying this a little bit." Larry glanced at Hailey's colorful face. "Wudda you think?" Hailey slid her knees towards her upper body. She flattened soft thighs on top of her stomach. Hailey stared at Larry's retard face from the corners of her eyes.

"Thgg ymmm fggg psss shnn," Hailey grumbled into strands of tape covering her lips. Larry squeezed his fat fingers into a tunnel of meat hiding under the edges of Hailey's labia. Hailey's head tilted back. Hailey's eyelids peeled off of her emerald irises. "Mmmmmmm--" Hailey groaned. Her eyes squeezed themselves shut. "Mmmmm--" Larry's right hand fingers stroked soft flesh covering Hailey's lower back. Larry sank bratwurst digits into Hailey's pussy until his knuckles caught. The back of Hailey's head compressed flame colored strands between her shoulders. "Ooooooooooo--" Hailey groaned into a duct tape blanket. Larry balanced on his knees. He dragged his tighty whiteys off of his fat hips. He slipped them between the surface of Hailey's mattress and his knees. Larry kicked his underwear off the end of Hailey's bed. He slid his fingers through long, ginger strands resting between Hailey's shoulder blades. He squeezed catcher's mitt digits into a fist. He tugged Hailey's flame tinted locks. He tilted Hailey's head back. Hailey's eyelids squeezed themselves shut. Hailey shrieked into a sheet of silver tape.

"Sit up," Larry instructed. "On your knees." Hailey turned her face. She sank wrinkled eyelids and duct taped lips into the surface of her mattress. Hailey tightened her biceps. She lifted herself with wrists wound in silver strands. She rotated her hips. Turning hip joints forced Hailey's thighs, knees, shins, and feet between her stomach and her mattress. Larry's chubby fingers sank into thick hide protecting the edges of Hailey's hips. Larry lifted Hailey's butt off of her heels. Hailey arched her back. The rear of Hailey's skull sank into a space between her shoulder blades. Hailey exhaled panicked breaths into a sticky blanket.

"Mmm! Mmmm! Mmmm! Mmmm!" Larry re-collected the ends of Hailey's flame colored locks. He yanked them. "Maaa!!" Hailey shrieked into fastened lips. Hailey arched her back. She squeezed her eyelids shut. Larry forced the end of his giant peepee between Hailey's legs. Hailey felt the tip of Larry's pecker sink between her tiny pussy lips. A rock hard weiner the width of a Polish sausage slid across mucus coated flesh protecting Hailey's labia. Larry's fat dick slipped inside Hailey's vagina. Larry started humping. He forced his fat cock in and out of Hailey's pussy. He stretched Hailey's orange locks away from her scalp. Hailey's disgusted face swiveled on the end of her neck. Defeated emeralds stared coldly below Hailey's flattened eyebrows.

"Jesus, Hailey--" Larry groaned. "Fuckk--" Larry shoved his dick in and out of Hailey's vagina. "You got a fuckin' tight pussy. Daamn--" Larry started slamming his weiner inside Hailey's genitals. Hailey felt Larry's peepee swelling up. She knew it was about to pop. Larry's fingers tightened around the ends of Hailey's hair. Larry pulled Hailey's ginger locks so hard, it made her neck hurt. Hailey squeezed her eyes shut. She mashed her lips together below strands of silver tape. She hoped Larry would finish soon. "Mmmmm-AAAAH!" Larry grunted. Larry continued humping. "Ahh-- ahh-- ahhh-- ohhhhh--" Hailey felt like she was going to throw up. She cringed. She could feel Larry's thick semen flooding the inside of her vagina. "Ohhh, my Godd--" Larry groaned. Larry collapsed on Hailey's tiny shoulders. His fat fingers squeezed shut around Hailey's biceps. "Roll over," Larry instructed.

Larry rolled onto his right side. He dragged Hailey with him. Larry's flabby biceps surrounded Hailey's upper arms. His wrists collapsed on Hailey's chest. Larry squeezed Hailey's naked body against his disgusting, hairy man tits. Hailey laid helplessly between Larry's heavy biceps. She rested on a rug made from Larry's curly, black chest hairs. She heard Larry snoring. Hailey stared into space. She felt like dying. Hailey listened to Larry snore for a half hour. Her wrists started to ache. Hailey felt a layer of sweat accumulating between strands of tape and her face. Well-- the droplets of bodily fluid were either sweat or Hailey's saliva. Hailey was not sure which. Hailey needed to get her wrists untaped. She knew that much.

Hailey lifted her fingers in front of her face. She tightened her pale digits into fists. They were throbbing. Hailey's wrists rested on top of Larry's fat forearms. Fingertips decorated with pink nail polish reached for Hailey's lips. Ends of soft digits slid between Hailey's mouth and soggy strands of tape. Hailey's fingers gripped silver filaments. They dragged two inch blankets away from Hailey's lips. Hailey felt adhesive peeling off of her soft cheeks. She detected sticky strands yanking hairs out of the back of her neck. Hailey stretched a duct tape sheet below her chin. She turned her head.

"H-Hey--" Hailey squeezed out. She cleared her throat. Larry's eyelids were folded on top of his coal shaded irises. Larry exhaled a hideous snort into his Hitler mustache. Hailey inhaled through sopping wet lips. She exhaled an impatient breath. "Larry!" Hailey shouted. Larry's penetrating eyes popped open. Larry squeezed his eyelids together. He shook his hideous face.

"Mmmm--" Larry groaned. Hailey lifted aching, duct taped wrists in front of her face. The inner corners of Hailey's eyebrows pointed at the bridge of her nose. Frustrated lips ripped themselves apart.

"Are you-- done with me, you fuckin' pig??" Hailey demanded. Larry mashed ends of bratwurst digits into peaks of closed eyes. He dragged his fat fingers away from his face. Larry's eyes popped open. Larry shook his head. He inhaled through his nose.

"Haaa--" Larry sighed. Larry stared into space. Bushy, pitch shaded brows fell between Larry's eyes. "Uhh--" Larry groaned. Larry studied Hailey's colorful face. He stared at emerald shutters waiting near corners of angry eyes. Larry squinted. Tight lips peeled off of Larry's jagged teeth. "What-- the fuck did you just call me?" Disgusted emeralds gazed at Larry from the edges of Hailey's eye sockets. Hailey blinked.

"What-- the fuck did you just do to me??" Hailey sarcastically responded. Larry squeezed a set of angry lips together. The bridge of his nose wrinkled. Larry hammered the back of Hailey's scalp with the edge of his fist. Hailey's eyes shut themselves. Hailey's teeth squeezed together. Her face sank into the surface of her mattress.

"Eh!" Hailey shrieked between clenched insisors. Larry stood beside the end of Hailey's bed. Coal shaded irises studied the curves of Hailey's undressed body. Larry bent over. He grabbed his underwear and his jeans. Hailey looked over her shoulder. She slid her elbows against her chest. She forced herself off of the surface of her mattress. She showed Larry her wrists. "L-Larryy--" Hailey groaned. "My hands are killing me. Can you please untie me?" Larry squeezed his jeans around his fat waist. He buttoned them. He looked into Hailey's eyes. He looked down. He studied t-shirt scraps hanging from his thick fingers.

"Untie yourself," Larry instructed. Larry threw his hard rock shirt over his head. He grabbed his boots from the floor. Hailey faced forward. She studied dried paint coating the wall. She poked her cheek with her tongue. Larry stomped beside the end of Hailey's closet. He looked down. He stepped around the base of Hailey's bedroom door. He pointed at a hunk of wood laying on checkered tiles. He looked at flames hanging from Hailey's scalp. "Leave this door just like it is," Larry instructed. Hailey stared at bumps made of white paint. She looked over her shoulder. Emerald irises focused on Hailey's bedroom door. "If I have to kick this door down again--" Larry warned. Hailey looked up. "I'm gonna knock your fuckin' teeth out." Larry's catcher's mitt fingers dropped on ripped up denim covering his thigh. He headed for the hallway. Larry battered a lightswitch poking out of a wall beside Hailey's closet. Hailey's bedroom lights turned off. "Bitch," Larry mumbled on his way out. Hailey heard the front door shut. She heard Larry's old T-Bird start. Larry's automobile pulled away from Hailey's yard. Hailey heard the T-Bird's tires squalling. The sound of Larry's car faded.

Hailey laid on her side, facing her closet. Her pussy was killing her. Her fingers felt like they were going to fall off. She needed the kitchen knife Larry had. It was so dark, she couldn't see it. The soles of Hailey's naked feet dropped on frozen tiles. Hailey struggled to stand. Her thighs felt like they were made out of rubber. Hailey felt her knees wobbling. She leaned forward. She couldn't use her hands much because they were taped together. So, she allowed gravity to drag her off the edge of her mattress. Hailey balanced on wiggling legs. She squeezed her palms together in front of her undressed crotch. She worried she was going to fall over. Hailey wandered beside her closet. She lifted sets of imprisoned fingers. The edge of Hailey's index finger flipped her lightswitch towards the ceiling. Hailey studied checkered tiles covering her bedroom floor. She spotted the kitchen knife.

Hailey returned to the night table side of her bed. She faced her closet. She balanced on wobbling legs until her naked butt collapsed on her mattress. Hailey's pajama bottoms were wadded on top of her lap. Knots made out of sweaty duct tape were scattered on top of Hailey's striped britches. The blade of a kitchen knife extended from Hailey's fingers. Hailey's tiny digits flattened on top of her pajama bottoms. Hailey stared into space. Emeralds gazed through panes of glass surrounding the bridge of Hailey's nose. Pupils faced vertical decorations made of stained veneer. Hailey gazed at empty air. She blinked. Her exhausted eyelids closed. They slowly receded.

Hailey's face balanced on the end of her neck. It tilted towards Hailey's lap. Emerald shutters floated to the bottoms of Hailey's eye sockets. They stared at wads of silver tape. A long, stainless steel blade emerged from the edge of Hailey's palm. Hailey's pajama bottoms were resting on top of her naked thighs. An image of Larry's obnoxious face appeared in Hailey's mind. Hailey stared at cold, lifeless eyes. She studied scraps of black strands surrounding Larry's slick scalp. She gazed at Larry's Hitler mustache. The image of Larry grinned. Hideous teeth poked out of Larry's smiling lips. Most of Larry's teeth were missing. Inside her mind, Hailey looked down. Larry's catcher mitt fists were sliding across her naked body. Bratwurst fingers slipped between Hailey's thighs. They squeezed inside Hailey's sopping wet vagina.

Hailey's fingers were killing her. So was her throat. Her ears were pounding. Hailey wobbled her head. She realized she was screaming. She was bouncing on the end of her mattress. Her fingers were squeezed shut around the legs of her pajamas. Hailey pounded her tiny fists on the peaks of her undressed thighs. The soles of Hailey's feet crashed into checkered tiles. Hailey continued to shriek. She wished she could stop. The sound of her long winded screech was horrifying. It was killing Hailey's throat. Hailey's lungs felt like they were going to collapse. But, Hailey couldn't stop.

Finally, Hailey ran out of breath. A sudden shift inside Hailey's lungs forced her vocal chords to stop vibrating. Hailey choked on flesh coating the surface of her throat. Her eyes popped open. Her shoulders, neck, and face rocked forward. Hailey's lips ripped themselves apart. Hailey forced air into her throat. It was squeezed shut. Hailey sounded like she was inhaling nails. Short breaths forced their way out of Hailey's lungs.

"Uh-huh! Uh-huh!" Hailey coughed. "Eh-huh! Eh-huh! Eh-huh! Eh-huhh!!" Hailey forced musty air down her trachea. Her vocal chords vibrated. Hailey sounded like she was inhaling nails, again. Hailey exhaled a heavy breath. "Haaa!!" Hailey breathed out. She filled her lungs with air. "Haaa!" She filled her lungs again. "Haaa--" Hailey breathed in fresh air. "Hoooooo--" Hailey closed her eyes. She inhaled cool air until her lungs felt like they were going to burst. Hailey's skull rested between her undressed shoulder blades. She exhaled. "Hawwwwwwwww--" An image of Larry's hideous face appeared inside Hailey's mind again. Hailey stared at it. She remembered being raped. Ripples wandered across the surface of Hailey's scalp. Hailey's shoulders hugged her neck. Hailey shuddered. A defeated whimper erupted from Hailey's wobbling lips.

"awwwwwww--" Hailey squawked. She sounded like a lost puppy. Hailey's lips, chin, and eyelids wadded up like prunes. Hailey's lips quivered. Steaming hot tears leaked out of the corners of Hailey's eyes. Hailey forced fresh air into her sobbing lips. It filled her lungs. Hot air left Hailey's trachea on peaks of short sobs. "eh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh--" Hailey bawled. She opened wrinkled lips. She gritted angry teeth. Her eyelids squeezed together. Apricot brows pointed down the bridge of Hailey's crinkled nose. Hailey's fingers squeezed themselves into a fist. Her tight digits wandered beside her undressed ribs. Hailey shrieked. "AAHHHHHH!!"

Hailey hammered upright wood strips with her knuckles. She continuously latched and unsprung tightened fingers beside her ribs. Tiny bones poking out of Hailey's fist pulverized soft skin on thin boards. Hailey continued packing angry flesh against wall boards until her bicep collapsed. Hailey's ravaged digits dropped on the surface of her mattress. Hailey wobbled like a blow up clown toy. She dropped on top of her wrist.

Hailey rested on an exhausted arm folded up like an accordian. Her shoulder and bicep were killing her. Her knuckles were throbbing. She wasn't sure how she got there. Hailey stared into her closet. She felt naked. She looked across her room. She spotted her bedroom door. It was laying beside her desk. Hailey remembered being raped. She was pretty sure she blacked out for a minute. She exhaled painful breaths. She felt like she was bawling, recently. She was pretty sure she was. Hailey shuddered. She inhaled through her lips. It felt like she was inhaling frosty air from a refrigerator. Hailey felt like dying. She felt like wrapping her lips around the barrel of a shotgun and pulling the trigger. She felt like filling a bathtub with ice water, falling in, and holding her head under. But most importantly-- Hailey felt like throwing up.

Hailey turned on the lights in the hall bathroom. Hailey's white tank top was strapped around her chest and stomach. Her cartoon kitty panties were stretched around her hips. Hailey's pajama bottoms hung from the fingers of her left hand. Hailey locked the bathroom. She collapsed on the inner surface of the door. Her eyes squeezed themselves shut. Hailey exhaled nauseated breaths through trembling lips. Her bowel felt like it was trying to climb up her throat. Hailey dashed across the bathroom. She knelt in front of a porcelain potty. She greeted a bowl of water with pale spew. Hailey's head tilted back. Her skull rested between her shoulders. Hailey's bowel began to spasm. It felt like it was going to turn inside out. Hailey's head fell off of her shoulders. A gallon of orange vomit erupted from Hailey's quivering lips. Acidic chyme burned Hailey's throat. It reeked like partially digested peanut butter.

Hailey's panty wrapped cheeks fell off of her heels. Hailey collapsed beside a claw foot bathtub. Her back rested against a porcelain sheet. Hailey folded shaking arms over her chest. Her pajama bottoms dropped out of her wiggling fingers. Hailey inhaled deep breaths through her nostrils. She exhaled through her lips. Hailey concentrated. She replaced frantic thoughts with an empty, brick wall. Hailey's stomach calmed down. Hailey rubbed her naked arms. A slight chill made her shiver. Hailey exhaled through chattering teeth. She rubbed her hands together. Then, she reached up and flushed the toilet.

Hailey noticed blood pouring down her arm. Crimson syrup leaked from torn knuckles. It trickled down Hailey's arm. It dripped from her elbow. Hailey dragged herself to her feet. She walked to the sink. She rinsed blood from her knuckles. Hunks of raw flesh poked out of tiny bones protecting the beginnings of Hailey's fingers. Hailey patted her hand and her arm with a towel hanging above the potty. She grabbed her pajama bottoms, turned off the bathroom light, and returned to her bedroom. She hugged herself all the way to her bed. She dropped her pajama britches on the floor. She laid on her bed. She wrapped herself in her plaid quilt. Hailey laid in bed, shivering. She stared at her little kitty stuffed animal. It was sitting on the floor. Hailey's kitten stared back through big, blue eyes. Hailey stared at her kitty for a while. She reached down. She snatched her kitten off of the floor. She squeezed her stuffed animal against her chest. Heat slowly returned to Hailey's body.

Hailey stopped shivering after half an hour. Her emerald eyes popped open. Hailey kept her thoughts simple. She focused on how she felt, sounds in the house, and keeping warm. Hailey glanced at the clock on her night table. It was a few minutes after midnight. What tiny piece of sleepiness Hailey had was gone. Hailey was wide awake. She figured it was a convenient time to decide what to do about Larry. She cringed at the sound of Larry's name inside her mind. It conjured images of Larry's fat, hairy body pounding Hailey's pussy with Polish sausage dick. Hailey swatted a tear off of her cheek. She lifted tiny digits in front of her face. She pressed her fingertips together. Hailey's eyebrows collapsed above the bridge of her nose. Hailey wanted to kill Larry. She wanted to slice him open from top to bottom. She wanted to pull out his entrails. She wanted to bathe in his blood. Hailey imagined that. She fantasized about breaking into Larry's trashy, trailer house and finding him passed out. She pictured stabbing Larry to death with the kitchen knife he threatened her with. It felt good.

Hailey lifted her stuffed, calico kitten in front of her face. She gazed into its artificial eyes. Her kitty's white, black, and tan face reminded Hailey of her father. Hailey didn't remember much about him. She mostly saw her dad's face inside her mind. Hailey cuddled her kitty. She rolled onto her back. She stared at the ceiling. "My dad would KILL that cocksucker," she whispered. She swallowed. She rolled her eyes. "If my dad was alive, my mom would've never met Larry. She wouldn't be passed out on the couch, either." Hailey laid her kitty beside her face. She interlocked her fingers behind her head. "Probably a lot of other stuff, too."

A piece of Hailey felt like calling the police. But, Hailey kept shaking the idea from her head. She felt embarrassed. She also felt violated. She didn't want to share that with other people. She didn't feel like explaining what happened to a room full of cops. She didn't particularly enjoy random strangers examining her actions with condescending scrutiny. Hailey wasn't sure a jury of her so-called "peers" even existed. The average mind didn't understand Hailey Holloway-- or her actions. That's how Hailey felt. Hailey pictured lying lawyers-- dressed in pretentious clothing, attempting to outlie each other. She imagined an indiscriminate teletype recording her every word. It was all petty bullshit. There was no such thing as justice. Hailey knew that. She preferred to deal with Larry herself. As terrifying as Larry was, he was gone for the moment. And, Hailey could always deal with Larry when the time came. She lost the battle. But, the war continued.

Violent images filled Hailey's thoughts. Hailey imagined stabbing Larry in the genitals with a large kitchen knife. She pictured blood splashing her pale face. She imagined cackling with frigid hysteria. Hailey's lips formed a sadistic smile. Her lips quivered on peaks of silent laughter. Hailey imagined hacking Larry to pieces with a hatchet. She pictured stacking Larry's bodyparts neatly. She imagined jumping into a stack of blood soaked Larry chunks like a pile of raked leaves. Hailey wanted to consume Larry's fear. She wanted to taste his blood. She imagined standing over him. She pictured her shadow cast across Larry's Jack-o-lantern face, sucking the life out of him. Hailey squeezed her eyelids together. She opened them. She stared at the ceiling. She knew she would never do any of those things. She would go to school Thursday and chit-chat with Wednesday about the CD she recorded. Then, she would come home and do homework like she always did. Nothing would ever change. Hailey knew that. She was too afraid to stand up to Larry. It was easy to imagine destroying him from the safety of her bed. Hacking Larry to pieces in real life was a different story. Hailey worried that Larry was right. He told Hailey he could do whatever he wanted. And, maybe he was correct.

Hailey buried her face in her hands. She felt tears leaking out of her eyes. She sucked a sob from a space between her palms. A sharp pain erupted from Hailey's privates. It climbed the muscles of her bowels and formed into a cramp. Hailey winced. Her fingers dropped off of her face. Her eyelids squeezed shut. Her teeth mashed themselves together. Hailey lifted her head. She dangled her right hand in front of her face. She stared at her bleeding knuckles.

Hailey dropped on checkered tiles covering her floor. She snatched the roll of duct tape Larry used to restrain her. She wound silver strands around her battered fist. She chucked the roll of tape underneath her bed. Hailey faced the opening to her room. She studied the door laying beside her desk. Larry told Hailey to leave it knocked down. Hailey stared at a stained, oak surface. The inner corners of Hailey's eyebrows pointed down the bridge of her nose. The left corner of Hailey's upper lip peeled off of her angry teeth.

"Fuck him," Hailey barked. She wandered beside the end of her closet. She headed into the kitchen to find a screwdriver.




Chapter 4: "Thursday"
Table of Contents

Crackling thunder woke Hailey up Thursday morning. A roar traveled across the ceiling of Hailey's bedroom. It rattled the walls. Hailey snatched her glasses off of her nightstand. She threw them on her face. She glanced at her alarm clock. It was 5:13. Hailey looked out of her window. She found a sea of dark clouds swarming across the sky. The sun wasn't up. Clouds reflecting city street lights created eerie illumination. Hailey unwound duct tape from her right hand. She looked at her knuckles. The beginnings of Hailey's fingers were scabbed over. Hailey wadded a hunk of tape into a ball. She tossed it into a mesh wastebasket beside her desk. She skidded across her room. She turned on the lights. She returned to her bed. She dragged her comforter off of her mattress. She dropped it on the floor. She smoothed wrinkles out of a black sheet covering her mattress. She fluffed two red, velvet pillows and one puffed up headrest with a black pillowcase. Hailey arranged her pillows near the beginning of her bed. She rested her stuffed kitty on a pillow with a black sham. She picked up her comforter. She laid it across her mattress. She smoothed her quilt and adjusted it. Hailey moseyed to her closet. She picked out some clothes. Another thunder burst vibrated the air. Hailey grabbed a few things. She arranged them on her bed. Hailey picked a pink blouse, a pair of dark wash blue jeans, black canvas shoes, rainbow colored toe socks, a hooded jacket, a black bra, and black panties. Hailey's hoodie was decorated with horizontal black and white stripes.

Hailey liked what she was seeing. She grabbed the clothes she picked out. She headed for the hall restroom. Hailey turned off her bedroom light on the way out. Hailey grabbed a fresh towel from a closet in the hall. She dashed into the bathroom and locked the door. She turned on the lights. She studied her reflection in a mirror. The bathroom mirror was a large pane of reflective glass that stood above the sink. The sink stood beside the right hand wall. It was fitted inside a long countertop. The surface of the bathroom counter was decorated with light blue tiles. Hailey folded the clothes she picked out. She stacked them beside the sink. She faced a towel rod. It was mounted above a toilet beside the sink. Hailey's bath towel from Wednesday morning hung from a long dowel above a porcelain potty. The towel was the same one Hailey dried her blood soaked knuckles with. Hailey dragged the old towel off of the towel rod. She folded it next to her fresh clothes. She hung the towel she snagged from the hall closet in its place.

The body of a counter was constructed below blue sink tiles. It was made of wood. Panels forging Hailey's bathroom sink counter were painted white. Three long drawers were fitted below the countertop. A set of doors was fastened underneath. They protected a storage space below the sink. Hailey unrolled the middle drawer. She took out a tube of toothpaste and a red toothbrush. She soaked the bristles of her toothbrush with hot water. She looked around the bathroom. Empty beer bottles were scattered everywhere. Hailey's eyes studied a wall beside the sink. The upper halves of the bathroom walls were painted white. The lower halves were embellished with the same blue tiles decorating the sink counter. Hailey's eyes studied a bottle of vodka sitting on the toilet tank. It was nearly empty. The plastic bottle had been there for a while. Usually, Hailey barely noticed it. For whatever reason, she noticed it Thursday morning. Hailey reached across the sink. She turned a valve handle towards the wall. She squeezed a line of toothpaste across the bristles of her toothbrush.

Hailey looked at the floor. It was covered with white tiles. Hailey began brushing her teeth. She straightened a blue rug laying on the floor with toes of bare feet. The rug beside the sink was typically wadded against the base of the counter. Hailey spit mint flavored suds into the sink. She rinsed her toothbrush. She sipped water from the bathroom faucet. She swished water in her mouth. She spit toothpaste remnants down the drain. She patted her lips with the towel from Wednesday. Hailey looked around. Salmon tinted lips wandered to the left edge of Hailey's pale face. Hailey gathered beer bottles scattered across the countertop. She wandered around the bathroom. She collected bottles laying on the floor. She sorted bottles by brand beside the sink. She dumped the bottles' remaining contents down the drain. From time to time, Hailey turned her head and wrinkled her nose. A stench of stale beer wafting from the sink made Hailey feel like throwing up. Hailey tossed each bottle she emptied into a small trash can between the toilet and the sink. Glass bottles shrieked when they collided with identical silicate structures. Hailey left the vodka on the toilet tank. She assumed her mom wasn't finished with it. Hailey would never hear the end of it if she threw it out. Hailey removed a liner from the bathroom trashcan. She tied the top and placed it beside the door. She decided to chunk the trashcan liner in the dumpster on her way to school. Hailey opened the cupboard underneath the sink. She tore a fresh liner from a roll below the counter. She swung the trash sack in front of her chest. The trash liner popped open. Hailey dropped it into the empty trashcan.

Hailey looked at the bathtub. A long, porcelain tub stretched away from the left wall. The washtub curved a few feet short of the right wall. Hailey's bathtub hovered above white tiles on brass claws. The tub's claw feet matched faucets and handles throughout the bathroom. A blue shower curtain hung from the ceiling. It was decorated with yellow flowers. The shower curtain extended from the left wall and surrounded the tub. Hailey walked to the tub. She threw the curtain away from the left edge of the tub. She turned the water on. The bathtub faucet was controlled by a long handle. Hailey pulled a button poking out of the faucet. Water stopped flowing out of the bathtub faucet. It switched to a shower faucet near the ceiling.

Hailey began undressing. She pulled the base of her tank top above her bellybutton. She froze. Hailey stared into space. She searched the bathroom. She felt like she was being watched. Tiny, blue tiles surrounding Hailey's undressing body seemed like pairs of square shaped eyeballs. Light blue alien irises gawked at Hailey emotionlessly. Hailey closed her eyes. She shook her head. She glanced at a brass knob poking out of the bathroom door. It was still locked.

"Not that it makes any difference," Hailey mumbled. Hailey stretched her tank top over her head. She dragged white elastic off the ends of her flame shaded locks. She peeled cartoon kitty panties off of her hips. She tossed her tank top, underwear, and Wednesday's towel into a wicker clothes hamper beside the toilet. She folded her glasses on top of her clean clothes. Hailey stepped into the bathtub. She surrounded herself with a flower embellished shower curtain. Hot water glided over Hailey's undressed skin. Steaming liquid soothed Hailey's naked flesh. Hailey smiled. Wednesday's filth rolled off of her body. Dirt rinsed out of Hailey's orange locks. Cold sweat peeled off of Hailey's soft skin. Larry's disgusting skin oils washed off of Hailey's stomach, butt, and tiny breasts. The emission of Larry's name inside Hailey's mind made her cringe. Hailey squeezed her eyes shut. She gritted her teeth. She rubbed duct tape residue off of her wrists, cheeks, and lips. She massaged persistent adhesive off chunks of skin hanging from her knuckles.

Hailey drenched orange hair with hot water. She wrung flame shaded strangs with tiny fingers. She snatched a bottle of shampoo from a shelf above the bathtub faucet. Hailey squirted hair cleaner onto the surface of her palm. She crushed shampoo between her fingers. She squeezed thick suds into her hair. Hailey's scalp ached from Larry jerking her fiery locks. Hailey squeezed tiny digits between ginger carotene. She scrubbed painful head flesh. A coating of reassuring suds puffed up Hailey's fire shaded hair. Hailey suspended her scalp under steaming hot water. She rinsed traces of sweaty bratwursts out of soap drenched strands. Hailey felt like a human being, again. She swatted hot water off of her eyelids. She snagged a bottle of body wash from the shampoo shelf. Hailey grabbed an artificial sponge. She squirted luscious soap onto a knot like table tennis dividers.

Hailey scrubbed her neck, breasts, armpits, and stomach with peach scented suds. She massaged her thighs, calves, and butt with soap coated polystyrene. Hailey scrubbed the soles of her feet and toes decorated with pink nail polish. She studied suds poking out of table tennis netting. She imagined Larry's disgusting semen polluting her vagina. It made her sick. Hailey squeezed edges of pale insteps into corners formed between porcelain fences and the bathtub floor. She forced a polystyrene knot between the beginnings of her thighs. She crushed artificial pedals against the underside of her crotch. Hailey scrubbed cryptic skin tucked between her labia and anus. She scoured aching pussy lips with plastic, soap drenched lace. She swabbed her butt crack with sud soaked polystyrene netting. Hailey rinsed her soft skin with steaming hot city water.

Hailey punched the button poking out of the bathtub faucet. She used a long lever to turn the water off. Hailey whisked sopping wet flames out of her face. She swatted water off of her eyelids. Her fingers gripped the end of the shower curtain. Hailey hesitated. She imagined some creep waiting behind a blue sheet decorated with yellow flowers. Hailey closed her eyes. She stared at a brick wall inside her mind. She opened the shower curtain. She looked around. She couldn't see. She wasn't wearing her glasses. Hailey dragged the shower curtain to the opposite side of the tub. She snagged a towel hanging above the potty. Hailey patted soaking wet skin. She squeezed damp ginger strands with absorbent fluffs. She used the towel to tie her amber locks into a knot.

Hailey walked to the sink. She poked carnation stained toenails through rims of black panties. Hailey stretched an elastic wasteband above the beginnings of her hips. She fastened hooks of a black bra below her shoulder blades. She poked pale digits decorated with pink nail polish through elastic shoulder harnesses. She stretched flexible straps over the peaks of her soft shoulders. Bra cups made of black lace rolled over the peaks of Hailey's tiny tits. Hailey dug a bath towel out of ginger strands extending from her scalp. She hung an absorbent sheet above the toilet. Hailey dragged a pink blouse over her head. She shifted carnation silk over the curves of her upper body. Hailey squeezed toes embellished with pink acryllic into legs of dark blue jeans. She rolled up the bottoms of her pant legs. Hailey grabbed rolled up socks made from rainbow stripes. She sat on the toilet lid. Hailey stretched rainbow striped tubes over pale insteps and heels. She dragged elastic necks like columns of hard candy up the surfaces of her calves. Hailey's toes squeezed into cotton fabric bulbs sewn to the ends of her rainbow socks. Each toe covering was a different color. Hailey walked to the sink. She put on her glasses.

Hailey opened the middle drawer below the sink. She stroked deodorant onto her armpits. She spritzed perfume onto her wrists. She swirled scented petroleum between the beginnings of her palms. She patted soft skin below her jaw with fragrant tendons. Hailey took out a hairdryer. She plugged the hairdryer into a socket next to the door. The electrical outlet was installed below the bathroom lightswitch. Hailey also took out a red hairbrush. She poked through plastic makeup cases. She glopped foundation onto her forehead, cheeks, chin, and neck. She brushed on highlighter, contour, blush, and eye shadow. She drew eyeliner around exhausted eye flaps. She coated her eyelashes with mascara. She swabbed carnation pink gloss onto the surfaces of her lips. Hailey blasted sopping wet locks with her hair dryer. Then, she brushed her hair. Hailey strapped black, canvas shoes around rainbow striped feet. She squeezed into the body of her striped hoodie. She snatched a trash sack filled with beer bottles. She turned out the lights.

Hailey returned to her bedroom. She rested a sack of bottles next to the door she repaired. She flipped on the lights. She walked to her bookshelf. Hailey gathered four textbooks she needed for her Thursday classes. She gathered her Psychology, Economics, Chemistry, and Government textbooks. She dropped the books on her desk. She retrieved her backpack from a space beside her oak workspace. She removed four textbooks from her backpack. She replaced them with the other four. She returned the textbooks from her backpack to her bookshelf. She zipped her backpack. She snatched her keys off the end of her desk. Hailey glanced at the clock hanging above her bed. It was 5:51.

Hailey walked to the door. She grabbed the sack of beer bottles from the bathroom. She turned off the lights. She studied the front door. Larry didn't bother to lock it. Hailey stared at an unlatched dead bolt. She swallowed. She locked the doorknob and twisted the deadbolt. She studied her mom's frail body. It sank peacefully into the living room couch. The television was screaming. Hailey looked around for the remote. She turned off the TV. She left through the back door. Hailey locked the back door's doorknob and closed the door. She locked the deadbolt with her keys. She stomped through patches of overgrown weeds. She walked past the rusted swing set. She exited through a gate in an old, decrepit fence. She tossed the beer bottles in a dumpster as she walked by. Hailey reached the end of the alley. Lightning twisted along surfaces of black clouds above Hailey's head. Blinding bolts dashed in front of Hailey's eyes. Crackles followed points of electrical discharges. Hailey stretched the hood of her striped jacket over flames hanging from her scalp. Tiny droplets danced on foundation decorating Hailey's face.

Hailey's neighborhood was dead quiet first thing in the morning. Hailey emerged from her alley. The sounds of Hailey's footsteps bounced on silent houses. Hailey headed right. She made the next left. She hopped onto a sidewalk and headed north. She was one block from the Patrick Peterson freeway. In the morning, the freeway was desolate. Hailey didn't dread crossing the Patrick Peterson early in the day. It was crossing after school that was so tough. In the morning, Hailey could dance ballet in the middle of the fourteen lane monstrosity. Hailey reached the Patrick Peterson freeway after half a block. She strolled across. She hopped over a concrete divider guarding the opposite side. Hailey dropped onto a field of grass. She waded through. She found herself on the curved part of Dora Lane. She continued on the right hand sidewalk. After half a block, she looked across the street. She spotted the red brick fence she always passed. It bordered the end of a yard. The bricks were each spaced half a brick apart. The waist high wall was a checkerboard made of tiny windows and blocks of dried mud. Another block down the curve, Hailey spotted a pink flamingo lawn ornament. Rainbow colored windmills spun in gusts of consistent wind. The flamingo turned ninety degrees then swiveled back. An intimidating growl rattled the sidewalk. Hailey winced. She looked up. Lightning bolts wandered across surfaces of destructive clouds.

Hailey spread her arms. Rain was coming down. But, it was more like mist than rain. Hailey dropped her hands by her sides. She continued to walk. At the end of the block, the road straightened out. There were six blocks left. Hailey looked ahead. She spotted twisted branches. The twisting oak trees were Hailey's favorite landmark along the journey to and from school. She hooked her thumbs under the straps of her backpack. She skidded across an empty street. She half-skipped, half-jogged to the left hand sidewalk. She stopped in front of wound up oak branches. Hailey was compelled to pause and gaze at artistically grown oak. Hailey gawked for a moment. She crept into an empty yard. She stood between thick trunks wound like gourmet bread. She looked up.

Hailey wiped tiny droplets off the lenses of her glasses. She stared through dimly lit, twisting oak branches. Poorly illuminated structures were cast in murky gloom. Hailey's eyes studied twists up opposing trunks. Initially, bark and branches were wrapped around each other. Then, they were held in place while the trees grew. Hailey's pupils climbed whirling trunks to lower branches. Some limbs were hundreds of feet in length. Over the course of one hundred years, branches were meticulously woven together. Branches were wrapped together, randomly. Then, they twisted into higher branches or wove into lower ones. Twigs extending from hundred foot limbs were twisted into beginnings of swirling strands. Chains of oak knots resembled hair braids. Tree branches higher up had a shorter reach. There was less weaving the higher Hailey looked. The effect diminished into completely untwisted branches. Hailey checked extents of tree canopies facing away from each other. Unwound tree edges had little to no branches. Most of the trees' limbs were pulled into a space between their trunks. The oak trees looked like they were converging. The trees' bodies bowed towards a space that separated them.

Hailey shoved her hands into her pockets. She looked around. The oak trees reached into the air twenty feet. Their bodies were two hundred forty inches of winding oak coils spotted with soft, jade green leaves. Hailey took off her glasses. Undressed emeralds stared through interweaving branches. Hailey gripped the lenses of her glasses with the sleeve of her hoodie. She rubbed her spectacles with the end of her striped jacket. She laid her glasses over her eyes. Emeralds behind rectangular panes followed dark brown twists. Hailey heard a crack. She studied branches half way up. Hailey's eyes lit up. Her gloss coated lips formed into a smile. Two tiny squirrels scampered up an oak branch cargo net. Bushy tails wiggled behind teensy, hopping butts. The squirrels stopped higher up. They rested on a chipmunk hammock. The squirrels nibbled nuts their tiny fingers held in front of their puffed up cheeks.

Hailey lowered her head. Her fingers folded over her gloss coated lips. She snickered. There was another noise. Hailey turned on toes of black, canvas shoes. She faced a house beside the oak trees. A man emerged. He closed the house's front door. Hailey guessed the man was in his forties. Wrinkles extended from the corners of his eyes. The man's hair was grey down the sides. It was black down the middle. The man wore a blue dress shirt with long sleeves. Snakeskin boots poked out of legs of black slacks. The man wandered into the yard. He stopped. He crossed his arms over his chest. He stared at Hailey through squinting eyes. Hailey grabbed a thick branch. She swung out of a space between twisted tree trunks. She greeted the pepper haired man with a smile.

"Hello," Hailey remarked. The man waved back without uncrossing his arms. Hailey stared at dark, crinkled eyes. "I'm not-- bothering you, am I?" she asked. The man smiled. He tilted his head.

"No," he replied. "I've-- seen you around."

"My name's Hailey," Hailey explained.

"I'm Martin," The pepper haired man replied. "Martin Turner."

"I love your trees," Hailey remarked. Hailey's hooded face looked over her shoulder. Emeralds between flame curtains studied twisted up oak limbs. "They're-- really cool." Hailey faced Martin. "How did you do that?"

"It's, uh-- kind of a family tradition," Martin explained. "My great-great-grandfather started that in the early 1900s. And, we-- just keep adding to it. Every day." Hailey's emerald eyes gazed into Martin's. Hailey nodded. Martin inhaled through his lips. "You go to Glory High, I take it?"

"Yeah," Hailey responded. "That's where I'm headed."

"You walk there, every day?" Martin inquired.

Hailey nodded. "Yes."

Martin squinted. "How far?"

Hailey pointed the direction she came from. "My house," she explained. "It's on-- Cherry Lane." Martin studied emeralds behind rectangular lenses. He squinted.

"On the other side of the freeway?" Martin inquired.

"Yeah," Hailey replied. "It's a couple of blocks after."

Martin stared into Hailey's eyes. "You walk across the freeway every day to go to school?"

Hailey nodded. "Uh-huh." Martin looked at jade tinted grass poking out of his yard. He stroked his chin. Hailey studied tiny, grey hairs coating the edges of Martin's scalp. "What?" Martin's dark eyes studied grass blades. His thumb and index finger lifted off of his chin. He pointed at Hailey with the tips of his fingers.

"Aww-- nothing," Martin responded. He looked up. "You know Vicky?"

Apricot brows lifted above Hailey's emerald irises. "Vicky?"

"Brown eyes?" Martin explained. He lifted the fingers of his right hand behind his head. He lowered wrinkled digits between his shoulders. "Long, brown hair?"

Hailey motioned with the fingers of her right hand. "Oh, right-- Vicky Turner." Hailey pointed at Martin with pink fingernails. "Martin Turner." She lifted her palms. "Vicky Turner." Hailey licked carnation gloss coating her lips. "Yeah, she's in my English class." Hailey squinted. "Is she here?"

Martin smiled, sarcastically. "Uhh-- she did not come home last night. I have no idea where she is." Hailey folded striped arms over her chest. She smiled.

"Oh, mann--"

Martin nodded. "Yeahh-- Me and her's gonna have a talk when she gets back." Hailey gritted her teeth. Martin spread the fingers of his right hand. He showed Hailey his palm. "Um-- I won't keep you, Hailey. I just happened to be coming outside. I thought I'd say hi."

Hailey nodded. "Okay." She hooked her thumbs under bright red shoulder harnesses supporting her backpack. She turned towards the sidewalk. "It was nice talking to you, Mister Turner."

"Mm--" Martin grumbled. He pointed at Hailey's pale cheeks. "Martin," he corrected. "Everyone calls me 'Martin'. Even the kids." Hailey looked up from the edge of Martin's yard. She smiled.

"Okay," Hailey responded. She waved. "Bye, Martin." Glory High School was four blocks away. Hailey could see the main parking lot. She spotted a tiny figure sitting along the edge of the sidewalk. The indistinct profile carried its fingers away from a pale face. A puff of white smoke appeared. "That's my little friend, Wednesday," Hailey mumbled. Hailey hooked her thumbs under the straps of her backpack. She bowed her hooded head. The rain was getting thicker. It was still more like a mist. Hailey trudged down the sidewalk. She was careful to step around puddles. The sounds of Hailey's tiny footsteps traveled across the neighborhood. When Hailey was a block away, her friend Wednesday watched her. Wednesday wore her black, leather jacket and ruby red lipstick. An eruption of black, chin length hair framed Wednesday's heart shaped face. Wednesday's dark locks sank into her scalp above a row of bangs. Wednesday wore a red and black plaid skirt that reached her knees. Black, leather boots climbed to the middles of Wednesday's calves. Hailey stepped beside her friend.

"'ello, muh dear," Hailey playfully spoke. She sat next to Wednesday. She studied her friend's chin length locks. "Shall we just-- ditch tuh-dee and go for a pint?" Wednesday looked up. She crushed pale, blue irises between squinting eyelids. She looked down. She studied her plaid skirt. She figured Hailey was imitating a Scottish accent.

"Aww, fuck you," Wednesday responded. She looked up. Her ruby lips formed a smile. Wednesday studied her friend's colorful face. Flame tinted locks hung beside pale cheeks. Emerald shutters rested between ginger carotene. A striped hood hung from Hailey's orange, shoulder length hair. Black and white stripes were formed around the shape of Hailey's slim body. Legs strapped with dark blue jeans poked out of Hailey's waist. Rainbow socks showed between rolled up denim and necks of black, canvas shoes. Wednesday's pale irises studied red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet bands stretched around her friend's ankles. She plopped a cigarette against her ruby lips. She took a drag.

"Are you auditioning for Tim Burton?" Wednesday inquired. Hailey stared at pavement between white caps covering her toes. She smiled.

"Fuck off," Hailey responded. Wednesday chuckled. Puffs of cigarette smoke erupted from her ruby lips. Hailey looked into her friend's eyes. "I have red hair. I have to make that work."

Wednesday nodded. "It's sorta red," she responded.

"It's-- redd-uh," Hailey insisted. "My dad had the same color hair."

Wednesday studied her friend's ginger locks. "It's pretty," she told her. Wednesday plopped her cigarette between her lips. She slid fingertips coated with black nail polish inside Hailey's jacket hood. She lowered a striped head covering. Wednesday fluffed amber strands growing out of Hailey's scalp. She stroked her friend's flame tinted locks. "Ever think about going darker with it?" Wednesday asked. Hailey didn't feel right. She felt like she was being assaulted. An image of Larry's fat cock flashed inside Hailey's mind. It made Hailey queasy. Hailey's pale digits snapped shut around her friend's curious fingers. Hailey lowered fingertips dotted with black acrylic. She sandwiched Wednesday's velvet digits between her palms. She exhaled a nauseated breath. Hailey's emerald irises stared into space. Wednesday studied her friend's colorful face. "Hailey?" she inquired. She flattened the fingers of her left hand on top of Hailey's right hand fingers. "What's the matter?" Wednesday's fingertips glided over chunks of skin hanging from her friend's knuckles. Wednesday looked down. She studied Hailey's battered skin. Wednesday's slender eyebrows flattened her pale, blue irises. "Hailey-- what the fuck?" Wednesday's fingertips stroked jagged flesh poking out of Hailey's pale digits. Dots of fresh blood showed between hunks of loose dermis. Hailey faced her friend. She forced her carnation coated lips into a smile.

"It's-- nothing," Hailey explained. "I got-- kinda-- frustrated last night when I was studying." Wednesday looked at drops of blood forming along the peaks of her friend's knuckles. She looked up.

"Haileyy--" Wednesday purred. "We're friends, right? We tell each other everything?" Hailey gazed into Wednesday's teal irises. She nodded.

"Always, Wednesday." Hailey looked across the street. She licked her lips. "Did you rent that movie last night?"

"Yeah," Wednesday replied. Wednesday rested the palm of Hailey's right hand on her lap. She squeezed her tiny fingers underneath Hailey's. She swirled her thumb along soft skin behind Hailey's smashed up knuckles. Wednesday yanked her cigarette away from her lips. She inhaled through ruby stained mouth edges. "It was really good," Wednesday explained. "It made a lot more sense when I could actually watch it. You were right."

"Yeah," Hailey responded. "That's so true." Hailey dragged her fingers away from her friend's. She squirmed out of her backpack. She rested her bright red book bag beside her. Hailey returned her battered knuckles to a plaid blanket stretched across her friend's lap. Wednesday squeezed Hailey's tiny fingers. "I don't understand why people read Shakespeare plays from a book," Hailey continued. "People could understand Shakespeare's work a lot better if they could watch the play being performed. Forcing people to read a play is just-- dumb."

Wednesday finished her cigarette. "Yeah," she added. Wednesday dropped a cigarette butt in a small puddle beside her feet. "You had trouble studying?" Wednesday inquired. "You never have trouble studying."

Hailey threw her hood over her head. "That's why I wanted to study," Hailey explained. "In Algebra Two-- things get harder."

"Oh. That reminds me--" Wednesday interrupted. "What're you doing in Algebra Two, Hailey? You're just a sophomore."

Hailey faced her friend. "I'm a year ahead in math. They let me skip Pre-Algebra."

"Ohh--" Wednesday groaned. "Okay. I see." Wednesday studied emeralds behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. "Did you listen to the C-D I gave you?"

Hailey sighed. "Aww, Wednesday--" Wednesday wobbled her friend's battered digits. Long, thin eyebrows hopped off of Wednesday's eye sockets. Wednesday mashed her teeth together.

"Did-- you-- listen to it??"

"It's--" Hailey stuttered. "It was-- I didn't--" Hailey gazed into her friend's light blue eyes. She squeezed her lips together. "I really liked it." Wednesday exhaled an excited giggle. She squeezed her arms around her friend's neck. Wednesday crushed Hailey's hood covered locks against jet black strands growing out of her temple.

Paul's house was erected along the northeast corner of Mark Anthony Road and Limburger Drive. It was a few blocks northeast of Martin Turner's house. It was a medium sized home. Paul's house had a garage and a driveway. The house was constructed with dark red bricks. Some bricks were randomly brown. The roof of Paul's home was covered with black shingles. Wooden trim protecting points below the roof's ends was painted brown. The garage door was also brown. A fence extended from the edges of the house. Fresh, pine pickets emerged behind an air conditioning unit and surrounded the backyard. Paul's front yard looked like a field of emeralds. Flat grass blades were well groomed and neatly trimmed. A large pecan tree stood near the edge of Paul's front lawn. Grass surrounding the tree's trunk was littered with pecans. Vicky's Station Cruiser was parked in front of Paul's garage door. Vicky stood under Paul's pecan tree. She was toking up.

Vicky was wearing her "schoolgirl outfit." That's what her friends nicknamed it. Vicky's clothing consisted of a black vest, a white dress shirt with long sleeves, a knee length blue skirt, white tube socks, and brown maryjanes. Vicky looked around. No one was watching. Vicky plopped a steel pipe against her lips. It was constructed with shiny, red tubes and chrome fittings. Vicky took a hit. She sucked scorching exhaust between her lips. Paul approached Vicky from behind.

"Puff, puff, pass!" Paul shouted. Vicky nearly jumped into the street. Her pipe tumbled along the tips of her fingers. Vicky glared at Paul above her shoulder.

"God damn, Paul!" she whispered back. She handed Paul her pipe and a plastic lighter. She pointed behind them with her thumb. "I don't think they heard you down on the freeway!" Paul wore a red, plaid shirt with long sleeves. A worn out punk rock t-shirt showed between the edges of Paul's jacket. Legs of dark wash blue jeans wadded around different colored canvas shoes. Paul stared back through blue lenses shaped like stop signs. Octagonal sapphires hovered above an excited grin. Paul put the pipe to his lips. He took a toke. He inhaled through his lips. He handed Vicky her pipe and her lighter.

"Galm down," Paul squeezed out of smoke filled lungs. He exhaled a tube of pot smoke.

"Dayum!" Joe belched. Vicky sucked in a hit. She nearly dropped her pipe. "You two are smokin' up awl the dayum bud, aren't you?" Vicky and Paul looked at Joe over their shoulders. Joe wore a white t-shirt. A punk band was advertised on Joe's top. Joe's red leather jacket hung from his shoulders. Black jeans poked out of the base of Joe's t-shirt.

"Dabbit, Joe!" Vicky forced through pot misted vocal chords. "Will you guys keeb your dab mouths shut?"

"Gimme some of that kill, dawg!" Joe shouted back. "Then maybe-- I'll shut-up." Joe slid his fingers through black strands hanging from his scalp. Vicky handed Joe her pipe and her lighter. Tommy joined his friends. His short, spiked blue hair wiggled in the wind. Black shades hid Tommy's eyes. A black jacket hung from Tommy's shoulders. Black and white stripes showed between the edges of Tommy's coat. Dark blue jeans followed Tommy's legs to his sneakers.

"Smoking that Mary Jane?!" Tommy shouted. Vicky swirled on toes of brown shoes. She glared into black lenses covering Tommy's eyes. She raised her palms beside her shoulders. Tommy looked at Vicky's shoes. Brown leather collars protected Vicky's insteps. Tan, cow hide caps covered Vicky's toes. Caramel straps buckled bovine heels to the beginnings of Vicky's ankles. "In your-- maryjanes, even??" Tommy requisitioned. Tommy looked up. He grinned. Broken teeth showed between Tommy's smiling lips. "I love it when you wear the schoolgirl getup, Vicky. That's the sexiest outfit, ever!" Tommy looked at Paul. He pointed at Vicky with his index finger. "Ain't that the sexiest outfit ever, Paul?"

Light brown eyebrows lifted above the lenses of Paul's shades. "Shut the fuck up, Tommy," Paul casually replied.

Joe handed Tommy Vicky's pipe and her lighter. "Here, mayun--" Joe groaned. "Smoke the rest of this bud. Please!"

Vicky nodded. "That might calm him down for a few minutes."

"I do like the schoolgirl outfit," Paul admitted. "It's, uh--" Paul held up his hands. He forged an hourglass shape by drawing curves with his fingers.

Joe's heavy fingers dropped on red plaid covering Paul's shoulder. "It's fuckin' sexy, yo."

Paul pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "That," he responded. "That thing this-- guy said." Vicky felt the corners of her lips forming a smile. She squeezed her lips together to hide it. Tommy puffed out smoke like a chimney. He handed Vicky's pipe and her lighter to Joe. He wrapped his arms around Vicky's trim waist. He tossed Vicky over his shoulder.

"Tommy!" Vicky shouted. "Put me down, fuck-face!" Vicky slapped Tommy's shoulder blades. Tommy turned around. He carried Vicky towards the house. Paul raised his palms beside his shoulders. He squinted behind octagonal sapphires.

"Uhh-- Tommy?" Paul requisitioned. Paul's fingers dropped beside his hips. "Tommy!" Paul jogged across the yard. He grabbed Tommy's arm. Tommy slipped a bicep wrapped in black canvas away from Paul's fingers.

"Shi-i-i-itt--" Tommy groaned. "Getcher own schoolgirl, motha fucker. This one's mine!" Vicky dangled from Tommy's shoulder. Wide, brown eyes stared at the lenses of Paul's shades between a curtain of brown hair.

"P-Paul! He's crazy! Help me!" Joe stuffed Vicky's pipe into the pocket of his black jeans. He hurried across the yard.

"Mayun, Pauly--" Joe groaned. "I never know if I'm s'posed to take this fool seriously, or what." Paul and Joe tackled Tommy. Vicky dropped on top of the boys.

"God damn it, Tommy--" Paul snarled. He squeezed his bicep and forearm around Tommy's neck. "What-- did I tell you, yesterday? Huh??" Tommy crushed sets of excited digits around Paul's wrist. He forced elated chuckles through spaces separating his jagged teeth.

"Hhhhhhhh-- ahh-- ahh-- ahh-- ahhhh--" Paul laid on his stomach next to Tommy. He tightened his bicep and forearm.

"Didn't I say I wasn't playin', Tommy?" Vicky was sprawled across Tommy's upper back. Joe's left arm was trapped under Tommy's chest. Tommy squeezed his legs around one of Joe's ankles. He reached behind him. His scrawny fingers squeezed shut around the ends of Vicky's dark brown locks. Vicky shrieked. Tommy stretched his neck away from Paul's arms. He gazed at the lenses of Paul's shades above his shoulder.

"Whoa!" Tommy whispered. "Paul! Quick!" Tommy motioned towards Vicky with blue spikes poking out of his scalp. "Quick! Grab her ass! Now's your chance!" Paul exhaled laughter through tight lips. He started giggling so hard, his arms almost let go of Tommy's neck. Paul jiggled his head. He squeezed his bicep and wrist around Tommy's throat.

"W-What?!" Paul whispered back. "Tommy-- what the fuck, mann??"

"Fool--" Tommy squeezed out. "Grab her ass cheeks! I got her pinned!" Paul shook with uncontrollable giggles, again. The pot was getting to him.

"Tommy!" Paul whispered through laughter. "I'm not gonna do that, man!" Tommy felt Vicky's fingers trying to un-curl his fist. He squeezed his fingers shut.

"Tommy!" Vicky shouted.

"Aww, for fuck's sake!" Tommy squeezed out of a tight throat. He looked at Paul above his shoulder. "Alright, fine!" Tommy whispered. "Grab a thigh, then!" Paul giggled. Pale skin behind octagonal sapphires crinkled like old leather. Paul's arms wobbled like noodles. "Grab a wing!" Tommy forced out. Vicky wrangled her hair away from Tommy's long, skinny fingers. She rolled off of Tommy's back and scrambled away. Tommy patted a space between his shoulders. He tightened his fingers around Paul's wrist. "Damn it!" Tommy shouted. "Damn it! Damn it!" Joe slipped his limbs away from Tommy's wriggling carcass. He shoved himself to his feet. He held up his arms. He showed Tommy and Paul his palms. He spread his fingers.

"Mayun--" Joe groaned. "This fool! Jeez!" Paul let go of Tommy's scrawny neck. He rested on his knees. He plopped his hands on his hips. He sighed.

"God damn it, Tommy." Paul shook his head. "You're fuckin' nuts." Paul shifted to stand. Tommy supported himself with his palms. He looked at Paul over his shoulder. A set of black eyebrows lifted above the lenses of Tommy's pitch tinted shades.

"Whoa, Paul!" Tommy whispered. Tommy's slender fingers squeezed shut around the chest of Paul's black t-shirt. "Wait a minute!" Tommy rasped. "Hold on a second--" Paul chuckled. He raised his palms in front of his shoulders.

"Tommy-- I swear," Paul responded.

"Paul, mann--" Tommy squeezed out. "Dude, you got to take advantage of that shit-- when it presents itself!" Paul smiled. He squeezed impatient fingers around Tommy's.

"Dude-- get the fuck outta here!" Paul whispered back. Tommy tightened his fingers around Paul's punk rock shirt.

"No! No!" Tommy rasped. "Listen to me, man--" Curious sapphires stared at Tommy's jagged teeth from the middle of Paul's face. "Every day I do this shit, Paul--"

Paul's head turned. "Aww--" he purred. "What the fuck is this, Tommy?"

"Every day, Paul!" Tommy whispered. "And every day I pull some shit-- you're the first one comes runnin'." Blue lenses concealing the upper half of Paul's face studied Tommy's expressions. Paul smiled.

"Fool-- what are you going on about??"

"Paull--" Tommy groaned in a whisper. "Vicky likes you, mann." Paul's head tilted. His chin collapsed on his chest.

"Aww, Tommy--" Paul moaned. Tommy squeezed Paul's t-shirt. He shook Paul's shoulders.

"Paul-- she likes YOU, fool." Tommy pointed at his chest with the fingers of his left hand. "She don't like me. I could *never* get me a girl like Vicky!"

Paul pried Tommy's fingers. "Tommy, mann--" Paul whispered. "C'mon. Quit playin' around." Tommy's eyebrows lifted above lenses of black shades.

"Paul!" he rasped. "Vicky likes YOU, dumb shit!" He shook Paul's shoulders. "Everybody knows she does! It's not just me saying it. It's everyone!"

"Ohh--" Paul purred. He pointed around. "So, all this-- this is all for me. Right? I see--"

Tommy squeezed the breast of Paul's punk shirt. "Man, Paull-- I'm tellin' you--" Paul attempted to pry Tommy's scrawny digits off of his shirt.

"I-- Okay, then--" Paul whispered. "So next time, well--" Paul squeezed together nervous lips below octagonal sapphires covering his eyes. "I'll just have to-- grab me a piece of Vicky's ass, then."

Tommy shook his head, slowly. "Mann--" he exhaled through broken teeth. "That's all you got to do, yo!"

A roaring engine split humid air. Paul's grass rumbled from rock music thumps. Paul looked over his shoulder. Vicky and Joe stood near the end of Paul's yard. Vicky's brown eyes gazed into the lenses of Paul's shades. Vicky squeezed a smile away from her lips. Paul's eardrums pounded from engine noise and heavy bass. Paul inhaled through his lips.

"Gee--" he groaned. "That must be Travis." Joe faced Mark Anthony Road. Tommy and Paul stood up. They looked where Joe gawked. Travis peeled around the corner. His axles spun rubber on slick pavement. White smoke erupted from spinning treads. Travis' truck skidded beside the edge of Paul's yard. Travis turned off his truck. Jennifer sat beside Travis. Her brown hair blew in the wind. Gary and Tate were in the back. Tate hopped out of the rear, passenger window. Long, blood red braids swirled around her body. Tatum wore a banana yellow turtleneck. The base of Tate's top sank into the waist of a black skirt decorated with a banana yellow grid. Necks of yellow tube socks sank into collars of saddle shoes. Tate wandered across Mark Anthony Road. She wrapped her arms around her good buddy, Vicky. Paul walked beside Travis' driver's side door. He peered through a set of shiny, blue lenses. Travis' angry face glared at Paul from the neck of a black, leather jacket. Travis' cornflower blue eyes stared below ends of shaggy, black hair.

"Paul!" Travis shouted. He pointed between the lenses of Paul's blue shades. "You are not riding with me!" Thunder rattled the body of Travis' pickup. Paul grinned.

"Come on, Travis," Paul responded. He looked at Travis' back seat. He stared into Gary's blue eyes. Gary wore a tan jacket, a pale blue shirt, and black jeans. "Gary," Paul instructed. "Scooch over."

Travis looked over his shoulder. "Gary--" Travis warned. "I will kick your ass, if you let him in here!" Gary laughed. Paul looked at Jennifer.

"Wussup, Jen-Jen?" Jennifer wore a blue sweater and amber jeans. Her pale blue eyes gazed between curtains of brown hair.

"You're stoned," Jennifer responded.

Joe popped up next to Paul. "Yeahh--" Joe purred. "Here you go, mayun." Joe handed Vicky's pipe and her lighter to Travis.

"Good man," Travis replied. Travis took a toke. He handed Vicky's pipe to his girlfriend. Paul patted black leather wadded around Travis' shoulder.

"Mann--" Paul croaked. "It's almost time, Travis."

"Fuck you, Paul," Travis kindly replied. Jennifer offered Vicky's pipe to Gary. Gary shooed Jennifer with his fingers.

"Not before school," Gary responded.

"Time for what?" Joe asked Paul. Paul looked into Joe's eyes. He smiled. He dropped his fingers on red leather hanging from Joe's deltoid.

"Time for school," Paul responded. "It's almost time for school, Joey. Aren't you excited?"

Travis pointed at Joe above black paint coating the surface of his door. "That's why you don't answer that stupid shit," he explained.

"Aww, mayun--" Joe groaned. He walked away. Jennifer handed Vicky's pipe to Travis. Travis took a hit. He handed Vicky's pipe and her plastic lighter to Paul.

"Well," Travis remarked. He grinned. "I'll see you there, Paul. Nice talking to you."

"Aww, shit--" Paul croaked. "I'm riding with you. You know that."

Travis pointed between Paul's eyes. "Paul!" he snapped. Travis looked above Paul's shoulder. "Tate!" he called. "Let's go!" Travis stared at sapphire lenses hiding Paul's eyes. "I don't know why you ask, Paul. You're not gettin' in this motha fucker."

"Ah, yeah?" Paul requisitioned. Paul hopped onto a chrome plated step. It was fastened below the bottom edge of Travis' driver's side door. Paul gripped the edge of Travis' open window.

"Tate!" Travis screamed. "Hurry the fuck up!!" Tate hopped through Travis' rear, passenger window. She plopped down next to Gary. Travis fired up his truck. Earsplitting engine noise erupted from chrome exhaust pipes. Thumps of rock music compressed Paul's eardrums. Angry, jet black eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Travis' nose. "Get the fuck off my truck, Paul!" Travis shrieked. He revved his engine.

Paul shook his head. "Aww, shit!" he shouted. "I'll just ride like this!" Paul pointed in the direction of Glory High. "Let's go!"

"Stupid motha fucker!!" Travis shouted from an angry, scrunched up face. He switched his transmission into drive. He skidded away from Paul's curb. Paul held on. Jennifer watched Paul swinging from the edge of Travis' door. She cupped her fingers over carnation coated lips. She snickered.

"GET OFF, YOU FUCKING DIPSHIT!!" Travis shrieked. He battered Paul's fingers with the edge of his fist. Paul dropped off the edge of Travis' pickup. He dropped on pavement across the street. Travis sped away. Chains of piston compressions barreled down the street. Bass from loud music faded to nothing. Paul hopped up. He dusted himself off. He looked at Joe, Tommy, and Vicky. He raised his palms beside his hips.

"Well?" Paul requisitioned. "Let's go!"




Chapter 5: "Psychology"
Table of Contents

Wednesday finished a cigarette. She dropped it in a puddle beside her feet. Wednesday began dropping butts in the same puddle when she sat down. A pile of soaking wet cigarette stumps rested beside the sole of Wednesday's boot. It was still misting. Cars were filling the main parking lot. Car doors opened and shut. A crowd behind Hailey and Wednesday grew exponentially. Conversation and laughter carried across cool, empty air. Students played car radios. Others crouched beside vehicles. They smoked cigarettes surreptitiously-- kind of like Wednesday. Wednesday faced her friend.

"It's about that time," Wednesday remarked. Wednesday and Hailey stood up. Wednesday poked her arms through a denim book bag. Hailey threw her red backpack over her shoulders. She followed her friend. The girls wandered between students and cars. They reached a walkway that led to the front doors. Wednesday looked at Hailey. She smirked. Wednesday hopped onto a concrete block. Glory High's flagpole erupted from the top. Wednesday hung from a chrome plated pole by one hand. She took a breath through her nose. She exhaled from a satisfied grin.

"Wednesday Williams!" Ms. Goodwin squawked. "Get down off that flagpole!" A look of shame warped Wednesday's heart shaped face. Wednesday hopped next to her friend. She faced Ms. Goodwin's wrinkled precipice. She showed Ms. Goodwin her palm.

"Sorry, Ms. Goodwin--" Wednesday groaned. Ms. Goodwin wore a red dress with black polka dots. Calves wrapped in tan nylons descended from the base of Ms. Goodwin's top. They disappeared into shiny, high heels. An amber, cartene beehive rested on Ms. Goodwin's scalp.

"Don't give me that 'sorry' stuff!" Ms. Goodwin retorted. She pointed a stern finger between Wednesday's pale, blue eyes. Ms. Goodwin's amber hair bobbed when she spoke. "I told you-- I'm watching you!" Ms. Goodwin gazed into emeralds behind Hailey's glasses lenses. "Both of you!" Hailey showed Ms. Goodwin an apologetic palm. She bowed her head. Ms. Goodwin walked away to pester someone else. Wednesday watched Ms. Goodwin wander down the sidewalk.

"Whatt-- a bitch," Wednesday remarked. A loud engine roared. Hailey and Wednesday looked at the parking lot. Travis' black pickup skidded into a spot along the second row. Wednesday looked at Hailey. Hailey studied Travis' flame decorated pickup. She was dumbstruck. "There's your boyfriend," Wednesday teased.

"Fuck off," Hailey kindly replied. Travis and his friends gathered textbooks and school supplies. Hailey watched Travis digging behind his front seat. A black, leather jacket hung from Travis' muscular shoulders. A maroon polo was visible between zipper teeth fastened to the edges of Travis' coat. Black jeans descended from leather ridges formed along the bottom of Travis' jacket. Denim knots were wadded around white tennis shoes with black stripes. Hailey licked gloss coated lips. "I'm gonna go talk to him," she remarked. Wednesday studied her friend's pale face. She squinted.

"What??" Wednesday asked. "Hailey, no!" Jennifer wandered around the passenger's end of Travis' pickup. She snuck behind Travis. She wrapped arms surrounded by blue sweater sleeves around Travis' waist. Wednesday motioned towards amber denim strapped around Jennifer's butt. "Besides," Wednesday pointed out. "She's with him." Apricot eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Hailey's nose. Hailey raised her palms in front of her hips.

"So?" she requisitioned. Hailey looked into her friend's eyes. "I don't give a fuck!" Wednesday gazed at emerald shutters between Hailey's eyelids. Hailey glared back. She shifted towards the parking lot. Wednesday's fingers tightened around her friend's bicep.

"Hailey!" Wednesday shouted. Hailey's right foot hovered above mist coated cement. She looked into her friend's eyes. Slender, pitch black eyebrows flattened Wednesday's teal irises. Wednesday's fingers dropped off of her friend's arm. Wednesday crossed her arms over her chest. "What-- the fuck is wrong with you, today?" Hailey looked into Wednesday's eyes. She stared at cyan shutters attached to her friend's corneas.

"LARRYY!!" Hailey screamed inside her mind. Hailey collected her thoughts. She stared at a brick wall behind her eyes. Hailey inhaled through lips coated with pink gloss. She sighed. She lowered her foot. She shook her head. "N-Nothing." Ms. Goodwin stomped up to Travis and his friends. She threw her hands on her hips. Travis, Jennifer, Gary, and Tate closed the doors of Travis' truck. Ms. Goodwin shook her pointer finger in Travis' face.

"And what have you got to say for yourself, MISTER?!" Ms. Goodwin belched. Travis held his Psychology textbook and a pad of paper beside his hip. He looked into Ms. Goodwin's angry eyes. He smirked.

"What can I do for you, Ms. Goodwin?" he requisitioned.

"Don't-Don't-- Don't give me that!" Ms. Goodwin responded. "After the way you left here, yesterday?! You've got some explaining to do, young man!" Travis gazed into Ms. Goodwin's eyes. He smiled.

"Ms. Goodwin, what-- are you talking about?" Travis inquired. "How did I leave, yesterday? What does that even mean??"

Ms. Goodwin crinkled her eyes. "You-You-- You know how you left! Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about."

Travis shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe you should show me." Travis stared into old, angry eyes. "You got that on tape, right? Whatever it is?" Ms. Goodwin crossed her arms over her chest. She glared at Travis' smug face. Travis smiled back. He flattened his Psychology textbook and a pad of paper on top of his chest. He folded his arms on top. Vicky, Paul, Joe, and Tommy joined Travis, Jennifer, Gary, and Tatum. The bell rang. Travis licked his smirking lips. "Well, I guess we're all done here." Travis headed for the building. His friends followed. Ms. Goodwin turned around. She cupped angry fingers around her wrinkled lips.

"This is not over, Travis Griffin!" Ms. Goodwin shouted. "You hear me?!" Hailey and Wednesday stood next to the flagpole. Hailey studied Travis' confident face. Hailey liked that Travis stood up to Ms. Goodwin. He wasn't afraid of her. Travis and his friends were a few steps away. Hailey's emerald irises sparkled. Hailey smiled at Travis' chiseled precipice. Hailey pointed her index finger at the sidewalk. She swung her fist towards her stomach.

"Showed her!" Hailey shouted. Travis looked into Hailey's eyes. He smiled. He acknowledged Hailey with a nod of his head. Travis and his friends brushed past Hailey and Wednesday. Travis looked beside him. His girlfriend's pale face looked back from a blue turtleneck. Auburn eyebrows lifted above Jennifer's pale, blue eyes.

"What-- the fuck?" Jennifer snapped. Travis' cornflower irises stared back below shaggy, black locks. Travis turned his head without looking away.

"Y-Yeah--" Travis groaned. "Don't ask." Travis and his friend's disappeared into the building. Hailey watched the doors close behind them. Wednesday stared at her friend's pale, smiling cheeks. She licked her ruby red lips.

"Hailey, that was dumb," Wednesday remarked. Hailey looked into her friend's pale eyes. She shrugged.

"W-Why?" Hailey inquired. "What do you mean?" Wednesday stared into beaming emeralds. She shook her head.

"Forget it," Wednesday responded. Wednesday took her friend's hand. "Come on. We're gonna be late." Hailey and Wednesday walked through double doors covering the entrance. They entered the door on the right. They walked into a stairwell. They climbed to the second floor. The girls walked down a long hallway. They passed two intersecting walkways and made a left. They walked as far as they could go. They arrived at Mr. Tinney's Psychology class. Mr. Tinney stood beside the right edge of his classroom door. Pepper colored hair and square rimmed glasses decorated Mr. Tinney's wise face. Mr. Tinney wore an argyle vest, a dress shirt with long sleeves, slacks, and shiny shoes. He acknowledged each student entering his classroom with a nod and a slight smile. Wednesday sat near the far, left corner of the classroom. Hailey sat behind a desk next to Wednesday's. Hailey's desk was a couple of seats away from Travis'. Travis was already in the room. He was talking to Gary. Hailey watched Travis talking to his friend. She dropped her backpack beside her desk. She sat down.

"Hello, again!" Hailey beamed. Travis stopped talking. He looked at a set of fingers he was holding in front of his chest. He forgot what he was talking about. Travis looked above wads of leather hanging from his shoulder. He gazed into Hailey's emerald eyes. Bushy brows lifted above Travis' eye sockets.

"Hi, Hailey," Travis puffed out. Travis looked at Gary. Gary's pale irises stared back below shaggy, brown hair. Gary squinted.

"What's up with her, today?"

Travis shrugged. "Mr. Tinney put me and her in a group about a week ago," Travis explained. He smirked. He glanced at Hailey, discretely. He looked into his friend's eyes. "I think she's like-- all hot on this dick, now." Gary snickered. He raised his palm in front of his shoulder.

"Does she know you got a woman?" Travis glanced over his shoulder. He looked at Gary's pale face.

"I'm not sure she knows what that means." Wednesday studied Travis and Gary's behavior from the corners of her eyes. She watched Travis peaking over his shoulder and snickering. She figured Travis and Gary were making fun of her friend. She shook her head. The tardy bell rang. Mr. Tinney stepped into the classroom. He shut the door behind him. He walked to the blackboard. He wrote a capital "S". He froze. He looked over his shoulder.

"Oh, yeah--" Mr. Tinney announced. "Would everyone pass in those questions I asked you to answer last class?" Mr. Tinney looked at the blackboard. He resumed writing. Wednesday looked at Hailey.

"Oh, crap!" Wednesday whispered. "I forgot about that! Did you do YOURS?" Hailey handed her work to a student sitting in front of her. She looked at Wednesday.

"Finished it before we left," Hailey responded. Wednesday slid frustrated fingers into her hair. She squeezed her tiny digits into fists. She yanked her Psychology book out of her blue jean backpack. She flipped through her textbook. She retrieved a crinkled up piece of notebook paper. Wednesday glanced at chicken scratch scribbled above lines of blue ink. She handed the crinkled page to a student in front of her.

"I did like-- two of them," Wednesday spat. Lightning flashed through a row of windows constructed along the left wall of the classroom. It was followed by a crackle. Hailey read the blackboard. Mr. Tinney wrote "Sexual Dysfunctions" on the board. Hailey closed a set of disgusted eyes. She pictured herself thrown onto the surface of her mattress. Her wrists were taped together. Her mouth was taped shut. She looked over her naked shoulder. She watched Larry humping her. Hailey yanked her glasses off of her face. She dropped them on her desk. She sank acrylic coated fingertips into her eyelids. Hailey stretched skin flaps brushed with eye shadow. She folded her fingers in front of her lips. She looked at Wednesday. A blurry face stared back. "You okay, Hailey?" Wednesday asked. Hailey returned her glasses to her face. She gazed into Wednesday's pale irises.

"Oh, just-- thinking about one of the answers I put," Hailey responded. "I think it's wrong."

Wednesday pointed at Hailey with a pencil eraser. "At least you gave an answer," Wednesday responded. Wednesday scribbled something onto a fresh sheet of notebook paper. Hailey watched her friend frantically copying something from her textbook. She wiggled her lips to the edge of her face.

"What're you doing?" Hailey asked.

"Trying to finish this before the end of class," Wednesday explained. She smashed her fist on top of pages stacked inside her book. "How do you spell 'exasperated'?"

Hailey squinted. "'Exasperated'?"

Wednesday continued scratching gibberish on notebook paper. "I'm bullshitting, Hailey," she replied. "I've gotta finish this." Hailey took out a three ring binder and a pencil. She wrote the word "exasperated" on a clean sheet of paper. She handed it to Wednesday. Wednesday stopped writing. She studied a lined sheet poking out of her friend's fingertips. She snatched the sheet of paper out of Hailey's tiny digits. "Thanks," Wednesday absently remarked. Hailey flipped through her binder. She found a divider labeled "Psychology". She wrote "Sexual Dysfunctions" underneath notes she took on Tuesday. Hailey opened her Psychology book to the chapter from last class. She flipped it to the next chapter. It was titled "Sexual Dysfunctions."

"Has everyone heard the term 'child molester'?" Mr. Tinney asked his class. A young lady sitting along the front row raised her hand. Mr. Tinney pointed her out. "Yes, Gwen?" he inquired.

"You mean, like-- when an adult has sex with a minor?" Gwen responded.

Mr. Tinney looked around. "Does everyone agree with that?" he asked. Mr. Tinney focused on emeralds behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. Hailey stared back. She licked gloss coating her lips.

"A child molester is attracted to non-pubescent children," Hailey corrected. Gwen looked over her shoulder. Hazel irises glared at Hailey below strands of black hair. Hailey showed Gwen her book. She tapped a page with the eraser of her pencil. Mr. Tinney nodded.

"Hailey's right." Mr. Tinney turned around. He wrote a definition for child molester underneath the title "Sexual Dysfunctions". Hailey recorded Mr. Tinney's explanation in her notes. She looked at Wednesday. Wednesday was copying furiously from her book. Hailey remembered the question Wednesday was answering. She realized Wednesday was copying from the wrong page. Hailey reached in front of her friend's pale eyes. She flipped Wednesday's book to the correct page. She pointed out the answer. Wednesday raised her palms beside her face. She read what Hailey pointed at. Wednesday's fingers folded on top of her notebook paper. Her face collapsed on top.

"What do we call an adult-- who had sex with a minor?" Mr. Tinney asked. "Like Gwen said-- not a child but a minor?"

"A rapist," Hailey replied. Mr. Tinney stared into Hailey's emerald eyes. He curled his fingers in front of his lips.

"Even if it's consensual?" Mr. Tinney asked.

Hailey nodded. "Yes," she replied.

"I see," Mr. Tinney remarked. He pointed between emeralds embedded into Hailey's face. "What should a person do in that situation, Hailey? The minor, I mean?"

Hailey swallowed. "Umm-- Report them to the police."

Mr. Tinney smiled. "Woww--" he croaked. "You make it sound so simple." Several students chuckled. Hailey looked at her desk. She forced nervous spit down her throat. She felt uneasy. Mr. Tinney turned around. He wrote more notes on the blackboard. He laid down a stick of chalk. He faced the class. He shoved his hands into his pockets. "In the media," Mr. Tinney remarked. "It's said that a child molester is something that is-- created." Mr. Tinney looked around. "Some kind of-- horrible monster that is shaped by the world it lives in. A process occurs that drives a-- human being to commit unspeakable actions against-- tiny, defenseless children." Mr. Tinney studied his class. Fluffy eyebrows lifted above square rims surrounding his eyes. "Some of things these people do are-- quite disturbing." Murmurs wandered around the classroom. Mr. Tinney looked around.

"Does anyone feel like trying to explain to me-- how that can happen to a person? How can a person become a deranged, disgusting lunatic who preys on children?" Mr. Tinney studied adolescent faces. He raised his palms in front of his shoulders. He smiled. "Anyone at all?" Hailey studied Mr. Tinney's wise face. She inhaled through her nostrils. She exhaled from her lips. Mr. Tinney gazed into Hailey's emerald eyes. He tilted his head. "Nothing to say, Ms. Holloway?" Students chuckled. Hailey looked at her desk. She felt her lips forming into a smile. She squeezed them together. She looked up. She looked around. Other students watched. They waited for Hailey's response. Hailey studied a pale face. It emerged from shaggy hair the color of chocolate. A set of dark eyes hid behind thick, disheveled strands. Thick sideburns framed edges of a strong jawline. Hailey inhaled through gloss coated lips.

"A-- person's pathology," Hailey spoke. "Is based on a lifetime of experiences. It's also based on--" Hailey looked around. She lifted her fingers in front of her chest. "Conditions-- a person is born with?" Hailey looked at Travis. Travis' cornflower irises watched Hailey's colorful face above black leather wadded around his shoulder. Hailey smiled. She looked around. "These types of things-- they tend to run in families. And, they follow patterns." Hailey swallowed, nervously. "People who are abusive grew up abused. Usually-- when a person becomes a child molester, they were-- sexually assaulted when they were children." Hailey's own words made her feel sick. She looked next to her. Wednesday was not scribbling. She was watching her friend speak. Wednesday gazed into Hailey's eyes. She smiled. Hailey faced forward. She looked into Mr. Tinney's eyes. She inhaled through her lips. "You mind if I use the restroom, Mr. Tinney?" she asked. "I am on-- the lower level of Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs." Mr. Tinney chuckled. He rested the bridge of his nose on the ends of his index finger and thumb. He looked up. He nodded.

"Of course, Hailey," he responded. "Uhh-- we'll probably be answering questions from the next chapter when you get back. Okay?" Wednesday looked up. Long, black eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Wednesday's nose. Wednesday dropped a set of angry fists on the pages of her textbook.

"Really?!" Wednesday whispered. Hailey headed for the door. Gwen glared at Hailey when she crossed the front row. Gwen's angry face pointed at Hailey while she walked by. Hailey stared back. She felt so queasy, she didn't know how to respond. Hailey wandered down the hallway. She wondered if putting something in her stomach would help. Hailey stopped beside a water fountain. She filled her belly with frigid liquid. She wandered to the girl's room. She walked to a sink. She faced herself in a mirror above a stainless steel wash basin. Hailey imagined Larry's face. She studied Larry's bald scalp, penetrating eyes, and mustache patch. She pictured Larry's disgusting, hairy body. She recalled Larry grabbing her undressed hips and pounding his fat pecker into her vagina. It made Hailey sick. Hailey's stomach felt like someone shoved a knife in it. Hailey grabbed her gut. She crushed thick skin below her ribs with the fingers of her left hand. She squeezed her eyes shut. She inhaled between clenched teeth. "Ehhh--" Hailey groaned. Hailey threw up the water she drank. Frosty fountain liquid erupted from Hailey's gloss coated lips. Transparent fluid poured into the sink. Hailey emptied her stomach in one, long retch. She leaned over a tall faucet. She caught her breath.

Hailey ran the bathroom faucet. She suspended her lips below a frosty column. She allowed cold city water to dribble across the edges of her mouth. Hailey sipped freezing liquid. She swished droplets across her teeth. She spat. Hailey cyphoned faucet trickles into gloss coated lips. She swallowed tiny sips. She was afraid to get carried away. Hailey yanked a paper towel out of a steel box suspended beside the sink. She dampened it. She dabbed her forehead and her cheeks with a sopping wet sheet. Hailey turned a sink valve clockwise. She studied her reflection. She looked a little pale. But, she felt better. Hailey looked at her tiny fingers. They were shaking. Hailey tossed a wet paper towel into a trashcan. She left the restroom. Hailey felt her legs wobbling. She faced a row of lockers. She rested her forehead against a sheet metal covering. She tried to calm down. She folded her arms over her chest. She rubbed striped sleeves covering her biceps. Hailey stared at Larry's disgusting face inside her mind. It grinned. Jagged teeth poked out of Larry's smiling lips.

Hailey's face lifted off of a locker door. Hailey pounded her knuckles against a panel made of painted steel. Hailey regretted her decision, immediately. The beginnings of her fingers felt like someone battered them with a hammer. Hailey tightened the fingers of her good hand over her lips. She exhaled a painful breath into the surface of her palm. She closed her eyes. She squeezed her lips together. Hailey inhaled frosty air through her nostrils. She exhaled a heavy breath. Hailey returned to class. She looked around Mr. Tinney's room. Everyone was answering questions from their textbooks. Hailey crept to her seat. She plopped down next to Wednesday. Wednesday stopped writing. She looked at her friend. Wednesday's pale irises stared, stupidly. Her ruby lips parted.

"Hailey--" Wednesday rasped. Hailey stared into space. She looked into her friend's eyes. Wednesday pointed at the surface of Hailey's desk. "Your hand." Hailey looked down. Blood was gushing out of her knuckles. Hailey lifted her fingers. Thick bodily fluid dripped from carnation acrylic coating Hailey's nails. Wet crimson soaked Hailey's Psychology notes. Hailey rolled her eyes. She looked at the floor and shook her head.

"Shitt--" Hailey whispered. Wednesday rested her denim book bag in her lap. She opened it.

"It's okay, Hailey--" Wednesday whispered. Wednesday took out an old, black t-shirt. Wednesday dropped her backpack on the floor. "Give me your hand," Wednesday instructed. Hailey's shoulders swiveled ninety degrees. Hailey laid her fingers in Wednesday's. Wednesday crushed knots of elastic, cotton fabric on top of Hailey's blood drenched knuckles. She squeezed Hailey's tiny digits between the surface of her palm and wads of an old, black t-shirt. She glanced at her friend's glittering irises. "I wish you'd tell me what's going on, Hailey."

"I already told you," Hailey whispered back.

Wednesday studied her friend's colorful face. "Hailey--" Wednesday rasped. "I heard you punch a locker in the hallway." Wednesday's pale irises gazed at emeralds between Hailey's eyelids. "Everyone in here heard you." Wednesday licked her ruby red lips. "You gonna tell me-- you went to the bathroom to study for your Algebra Two test?" Hailey stared at a t-shirt crushed on top of her knuckles. She reached up.

"Why do you have a t-shirt?" Hailey inquired. Hailey squeezed the fingers of her free hand underneath Wednesday's. Wednesday shrugged.

"In case I need it," Wednesday replied. Wednesday crushed her friend's fingers on top of her wounded knuckles. "Keep pressure on that," Wednesday instructed. Wednesday looked at her own fingers. Wednesday's palms and her tiny digits were soaked with Hailey's blood. Wednesday looked into her friend's eyes. She shook her head. "I'll be right back," she whispered. Wednesday walked to the front of the room. She stood beside Mr. Tinney's desk. Mr. Tinney finished grading a student's answer. He looked up.

"What can I help you with, Wednesday?" Mr. Tinney asked. Wednesday concealed her fingers beside the edge of Mr. Tinney's desk. She faked a smile.

"I'm on the lower level-- of uh--" Pale, blue irises floated to the upper, right corners of Wednesday's eye sockets. "M-Maslow--?"

Mr. Tinney chuckled. "Go ahead, Wednesday."

"Thanks, Mr. Tinney," Wednesday replied. Wednesday raced to the girls' room. She washed Hailey's blood off of her fingers.




Chapter 6: "Kind Words"
Table of Contents

Hailey walked down the hall with her friend, Wednesday. The girls were headed for their next period classes. Hailey had Economics, and Wednesday had Algebra I. It was the last time the girls would see each other until after school.

"I can't believe you finished all of those questions before the end of class," Hailey remarked.

"I'm just happy Mr. Tinney let me turn them in," Wednesday replied. "Now-- I just have to remember to finish the ones for next time." Wednesday studied her friend's pale face. She squinted. "You already finished them, didn't you?" Hailey looked into Wednesday's eyes. She smirked. Wednesday inhaled through ruby red lips. "You're a piece of shit, Hailey." Hailey chuckled. She looked into her friend's pale, blue eyes.

"I have to use the restroom," Hailey explained.

Wednesday nodded. "Okay," she replied. "I'll see you after school, Hailey."

Hailey pushed through the door to the girls' room. It swung closed behind her. Hailey studied tiny, white tiles covering the floor. The walls of the girls' restroom were decorated with pink tiles that were larger. The details of the bathroom completely escaped Hailey, earlier. Hailey found it funny how different the world seemed when she felt like vomiting. She walked past a row of seaweed green stalls. She stopped by the same sink she used earlier. Hailey took off her backpack. She dropped Wednesday's t-shirt inside. It was drenched with Hailey's blood. Hailey was careful to wad the bloody parts towards the middle of Wednesday's top. Hailey turned the hot and cold water valves opposite directions. She extended aching fingers under a warm, soothing fountain. Hailey's exposed flesh felt like it was being poked with tacks.

Hailey squirted pink liquid soap from a chrome dispenser hanging from the wall. She scrubbed her knuckles with astringent suds that smelled like vomit. Hailey's raw skin felt like it was on fire. Hailey winced. A mountain of bloody soap suds stacked above the beginnings of Hailey's battered digits. Hailey scoured her knuckles until she couldn't stand it. She rinsed her disheveled flesh. She checked hunks of skin hanging from her knuckles. Dots of blood appeared on ripped up flesh covering Hailey's hand bones. Hailey gathered paper towels from a chrome plated box. She soaked them with warm water. She turned off the faucet. Hailey squashed soaking wet paper sheets on top of her knuckles. She backed against a wall beside the sink. She held pressure on top of her thrashed up skin for a couple of minutes. She lifted the paper towels and looked underneath. Hailey chucked a wad of damp, bloody towels into the trash. She grabbed her backpack and left the bathroom.

The halls were almost empty. Hailey checked a clock poking out of white bricks. Red crystals forged the timestamp "9:44". That gave Hailey one minute to get to class. Hailey wasn't worried. Her class was a couple of doors away. Hailey looked around a corner. Hailey and Wednesday came from that direction. Travis was standing near the edge of the hallway. His hands were tucked inside his pockets. He stood with his back against the wall. His head twisted. Travis' cornflower irises studied Hailey's colorful face. Travis squinted. His stare was sort of intimidating. Hailey liked that.

"Hello, Hailey," Travis stated. Travis cocked his head to one side. He stroked his chin. Thick brows compressed the peaks of Travis' eye sockets. "You look-- lonely," Travis remarked. Travis rested his knuckles against his chin. The beginnings of Travis' fingers turned his head. Hailey heard Travis' neck crack. "Or, lost," Travis added. Hailey hooked her thumbs under the red straps of her backpack. She wandered around the corner. She stood next to Travis.

"I do feel kinda lost, today," Hailey admitted. A tardy bell rang. Travis slid his fingers through shaggy, jet black locks hanging from his scalp. He gazed into Hailey's emerald irises.

"Ah, yeah?" Travis inquired. "Why? What happened?" Hailey's tiny fingers squeezed shut around her backpack straps. Ends of carnation coated nails sank into canvas shoulder harnesses the color of tomato skin. Hailey inhaled through pink gloss coating her lips.

"Something at home," Hailey explained.

"Oh, yeah?" Travis asked. "What's going on at home?" Travis looked above Hailey's left shoulder. Hailey licked nervous lips.

"Well--" Hailey began. Travis looked above Hailey's right shoulder. He stood on his tip-toes. "There's a--" Hailey stuttered. Travis peeked around the edge of Hailey's bicep.

"Oh sorry, babe!" he interrupted. Jennifer shoved Hailey against columns of white bricks. Hailey flattened against the wall. She looked around. Travis gazed into Jennifer's blue eyes. "I'm trying to have a conversation with you," Travis explained. "But, this dumb bitch won't get out of the way." Jennifer stared into emeralds behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. She squeezed her tiny fingers around Hailey's bicep. She forced Hailey's striped upper arm away from Travis.

"Move, skank!" Jennifer barked. Hailey stepped back. She watched Jennifer and Travis in a daze. Travis poked his tongue out of his grinning lips. He fluttered it like a snake. Jennifer stood beside Travis' shoulder. She wrapped sweater covered arms around maroon fabric surrounding Travis' waist. Jennifer stood on toes of suede boots. She surrounded Travis' tongue with gloss coated lips. She squeezed the edges of her mouth around Travis' saliva coated mouth flesh. "Mmm--" Jennifer groaned. Hailey watched Jennifer's lips climb Travis' tongue. Gloss coated mouth edges collided with Travis' lips. It made Hailey sick. Jennifer suckled Travis' lips. She looked at Hailey between fluffy, brown strands hanging from her scalp. "Trying to steal my man, freak?" Jennifer requisitioned. Jennifer reached behind black denim covering her boyfriend's butt. She smacked Travis' muscular cheeks. Travis' head swiveled. Travis studied a pale face erupting from Jennifer's blue turtleneck.

"Oh, you fuckin' cunt," Travis responded. He slapped Jennifer's denim wrapped hiny. Jennifer shrieked. Her tiny digits squeezed amber fabric stretched around her biscuits. Jennifer looked beside her. She hoped Hailey would be gone. But, she wasn't. Hailey's canvas sneakers rested near the middle of the hallway. Dejected emeralds watched Travis and Jennifer between flames hanging from Hailey's scalp. Hailey hooked her tiny thumbs under the straps of her backpack. Jennifer let go of Travis' waist. She stomped across tiles covering the hallway floor. Tiny fingers poking out of the sleeves of Jennifer's blue turtleneck flattened on the breast of Hailey's pink blouse. Jennifer shoved Hailey towards the opposite wall. Hailey collapsed on her butt below stacks of lockers. The back of Hailey's head collided with a steel locker handle.

Travis cupped thick fingers over his grinning lips. He chuckled. Jennifer stared at Hailey through pale, blue irises. Dark brown eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Jennifer's nose. Hailey squeezed her eyes shut. She gritted her teeth. She reached behind her head. Blood trickled out of her wounded scalp. Jennifer lifted angry arms beside her shoulders. She stared at Hailey's pale face.

"Get out of here, you stupid little bitch!" Jennifer shrieked. Hailey looked up. Emeralds below flattened, apricot eyebrows stared at Jennifer's shrieking face. Hailey hopped up. She dropped her backpack below rows of painted, steel doors. Hailey stomped across slick floor tiles. She balled furious fists beside dark blue denim surrounding her hips. She began pummeling Jennifer's squishy, little face. Hailey sank a fist into Jennifer's cheek. Hailey's soggy knuckle flesh pounded sparkling blush coating the edge of Jennifer's face. Jennifer's head spun like a top. Hailey pounded Jennifer's nose with the knuckles of her left hand. The back of Jennifer's head smashed into white bricks covering the wall. Jennifer went limp. Her sweater wrapped shoulders glided down edges of ivory mud blocks. Jennifer collapsed in a corner formed by white bricks and polished floor tiles. Hailey dropped in front of Travis' girlfriend. She battered Jennifer's pale cheeks.

"Fuckin'--! Whore--!" Hailey belched on peaks of angry strikes. "Like--! That--! Slut--?!" Arms wrapped in thick, leather sleeves squeezed shut around Hailey's throat. Travis collapsed on Hailey's shoulders. He tightened his forearms and biceps. He dragged Hailey's swinging fists away from his girlfriend's face. Hailey landed a couple of body shots while Travis pulled her off.

"Get off my girlfriend, you freak!" Travis snarled through clenched teeth. Travis' leather wrapped arms crushed Hailey's trachea. Hailey felt blood filling up her face. It felt like her head was going to pop. Hailey squeezed her tiny fingers around cow hide shafts compressing her neck. She tightened her biceps. Emeralds searched the lenses of Hailey's glasses. They noticed excited students gathering in the hallway. Hailey spotted security guards sprinting across slick, hallway tiles. Hailey's ears pounded. Her eardrums compressed from Wednesday's shrieking voice.

Hailey looked up. Hailey's head laid on the armrest of a red, velvet couch. Hailey knew she was in the nurse's office. But, she couldn't remember how she got there. She looked at an open doorway. A rectangular frame was erected beside white floor tiles. Hailey squinted. Her hand felt numb. Hailey wriggled her tiny fingers. She was holding a bag of ice against the back of her head. Freezing cold runoff was leaking down the neck of Hailey's striped hoodie. Hailey shivered. She sat up. She dropped the bag of ice on white tiles. The soles of Hailey's canvas shoes surrounded a polystyrene case filled with frozen bricks. Hailey looked through the open doorway. The nurse and a guard were struggling with Wednesday in the other room. Hailey stared at shrieking faces. She pried her lips apart. Apricot eyebrows pointed at the inner corners of Hailey's eyes.

"You-- Hey!" Hailey forced out. The nurse and a security guard looked into the room. Wednesday struggled to free her wrist from the guard's fat fingers. "L-Let her in!" Hailey shouted. The school nurse stood beside the open doorway. A shiny face the color of molasses looked at Hailey, compassionately. Braids like leather whips surrounded the nurse's concerned face. A white blouse and a white skirt were wrapped around the nurse's pear shaped upper body. White stockings followed the nurse's legs to a set of white tennis shoes. The nurse pointed over her shoulder.

"You know this girl?" the nurse asked.

"That's my friend, Wednesday," Hailey explained. The nurse looked beside her. The school security guard wore a black dress shirt with long sleeves. Black slacks surrounded his legs. Golden stripes emellished the guard's pant legs and shirt sleeves. A shiny, copper badge was pinned above the security guard's breast pocket. Silver fluffs embellished the top of the guard's pale face. The nurse looked into the guard's eyes. She tilted her head.

"She says it's her friend, Don," the nurse explained. "Can we let her in?" Wednesday tightened her bicep and wrist. She tried to tug her arm away from the security guard's muscular digits. Don looked into the nurse's eyes. Eyes like rain clouds gazed into irises like coals.

"I'm not supposed to, Martha," the security guard responded.

The nurse looked into the guard's pale eyes. "Donn--" she croaked. Don tilted his head. He unclenched Wednesday's wrist.

"Alright, fine," Don conceded. Wednesday yanked an agitated limb away from the security guard's fingers. Wednesday's angry, little face glared at Don over her shoulder.

"Yeah!" Wednesday screamed back. "Fine!" Wednesday, flipped Don off. "FUCK you!"

"Y--" Don squeezed between frustrated lips. Don looked into Wednesday's furious eyes. He raised his palms in front of his shoulders. "You're gonna have to watch your mouth in here," Don explained. "Alright?" Wednesday scrambled into the nurse's office. She plopped down next to Hailey. Hailey and Wednesday threw their arms around each other's shoulders. The nurse followed Wednesday into her office. She shut the door. Wednesday squeezed her friend's tiny shoulders between her leather wrapped biceps.

"Ohh, Haileyy--" she groaned. Wednesday lifted her chin off of stripes surrounding Hailey's shoulder. She gazed into Hailey's emerald irises. "Are you alright?"

"My head's killing me," Hailey responded. Hailey swallowed. Her gloss coated lips formed into a smile. "I beat the shit out of Jennifer."

Wednesday grinned. "Did you fuck her up?!"

"I kicked that little slut's ass!" Hailey shouted.

"Girls!" the nurse yelled. "Girls!" Hailey and Wednesday faced the nurse. The nurse sat on a barstool. "Language!"

Hailey licked her lips. "Sorry, Miss-- umm--"

"Johnson," the nurse interrupted. "Ms. Johnson." Ms. Johnson's coal shaded irises gazed into emeralds behind tiny panes of glass. "I've told you that five times, girrl. You don't remember that?" Hailey stared into Ms. Johnson's dark eyes. She shook her head. Hailey squinted.

"Am I gonna get suspended?"

Ms. Johnson crossed legs wrapped in white stockings. "You lucky that's all they gonna do." Ms. Johnson folded her fingers on top of her left knee. "You never been in here, before. So, they decided to take it easy on you."

"How long is she suspended for?" Wednesday asked.

"Rest of the day," Ms. Johnson responded. "And, tomorrow."

"No," Wednesday protested. "Nuh-uh." Wednesday looked at Hailey's face. "You've got that test, tomorrow," she remarked. Wednesday looked at Ms. Johnson. "Ms. Johnson, she's got an Algebra Two test, tomorrow." Ms. Johnson shrugged.

"Girrl--" Ms. Johnson sang. "She lucky that's all she gettin'! Most students get two weeks at the detention center for fighting."

"Ms. Gord will let me take a makeup test," Hailey explained. Wednesday studied her friend's colorful face. She faced Ms. Johnson.

"She's not a bad student, Ms. Johnson," Wednesday explained.

"Tell that to the other girl," Ms. Johnson responded. "She's got a swollen black eye-- a busted nose-- bruises on her breasts-- and you knocked out her tooth!" Wednesday's jaw dropped. She looked into her friend's emerald irises.

"Jeez, Haileyy--" Hailey's eyebrows lifted above the lenses of her glasses.

"She-- pushed me into the lockers." Hailey grabbed her friend's fingers. She laid Wednesday's fingertips on the back of her scalp. The ends of Wednesday's pale digits rested on a knot poking through Hailey's ginger locks.

Wednesday's nose wrinkled. "Aww, mann--" Wednesday looked at her fingers. Hailey's blood sank into grooves forged along the ends of Wednesday's tiny digits.

"Which tooth did I knock out?" Hailey asked.

"One of her molars, dear. Nothin' in the front."

Wednesday studied her friend's pale face. "You should've aimed for the front ones," Wednesday commented.

"Now-- are you all better there, Hailey?" Ms. Johnson asked. Hailey examined the back of her head. She soothed a gash poking out of her scalp. She nodded.

"I think so, Ms. Johnson."

"Then I got to release you, girrl," Ms. Johnson responded. "That means you got to leave. You ain't gotta go home. But, you gotta get out of here." Hailey stared at Ms. Johnson's coal shaded irises. She stood up. Wednesday hopped up, too.

"I'm going, too," Wednesday declared. She grabbed Hailey's tiny fingers.

"Oh, noo--" Ms. Johnson groaned. "I can't let you outta here, honey. Just Ms. Holloway."

"Ms. Johnsonn--" Wednesday whined. "Pleease!"

Ms. Johnson shook her head. "I can only let students go if they're sick or they get suspended." Wednesday looked into Ms. Johnson's eyes. She pointed at her pale throat with black acrylic coating her nails.

"You know-- I am feeling kinda bad," Wednesday explained. She turned her head. She curled her fingers in front of her ruby stained lips. She coughed into a circular shape formed between her index finger and her thumb. "eh-hoo-- eh-hoo--" Wednesday exhaled on peaks of sharp breaths. Wednesday studied Ms. Johnson's shiny cheeks. "I-- I think I got like-- strep throat. You know?" Wednesday grabbed Hailey's hand. "Come on, Hailey," she instructed. "Let's get outta here." Ms. Johnson reached beside her. She grabbed a long, paper wrapper from a steel cart. She tore tissue packaging off of a flat, wooden stick.

"Open your mouth, dear," Ms. Johnson instructed. "Say 'ahh'." Wednesday tilted her head. Long, slender brows flattened Wednesday's eye sockets. Wednesday opened her ruby coated lips. She waited for Ms. Johnson to flatten her tongue.

"Aahhh--" Wednesday sang.

"Nahh--" Ms. Johnson groaned. "I'm sorry, Wednesday." Ms. Johnson tossed the wooden stick into a trash can. "You ain't sick, girrl. I have to send you back to class." Wednesday's head collapsed between her shoulders. Wednesday exhaled an impatient breath.

"You-- You have to let me go, Ms. Johnson!" she explained. "They'll-- do something to her. They'll hurt her!" Ms. Johnson's face crinkled up. A set of protective eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Ms. Johnson's nose.

"Who?" Ms. Johnson demanded. She threw her hands on her hips. "Who is gonna hurt her??"

"Jennifer's little twisted, psycho friends," Wednesday explained. "They're probably-- outside waiting for her, right now."

Ms. Johnson shook her head. "Go back to class, Wednesday," she instructed. Wednesday exhaled through her nostrils. She looked at Hailey. Hailey wrapped her arms around Wednesday's neck. She crushed Wednesday's tiny shoulders with her biceps. She squeezed flames emerging from her scalp against pitch black strands hanging next to Wednesday's cheek.

"I'll be okay, Wednesday," Hailey whispered. "You have to go back to class." Wednesday crushed her eyelids together. She squeezed Hailey's neck. Don, the security guard stepped into the nurse's office.

"Wednesdayy--" he groaned, impatiently. "Ms. Gord just called the office. She says you went to the restroom a while ago and never came back."

Wednesday sighed through trembling lips. "I don't WANT you to go--" she whined.

"Wednesday, you have to go back to class," Hailey instructed. "Your parents will kill you if they find out you ditched class." Wednesday squeezed her friend's shoulders. She headed for the door. She peeked over her shoulder.

"You go straight home, Hailey," Wednesday instructed.

Hailey nodded. "Okay, Wednesday. I will." Wednesday left the nurse's office. Ms. Johnson shut the door.

"Now, Hailey," Ms. Johnson began. Hailey looked into Ms. Johnson's dark eyes. "We called your mother five times, dear. And, she has not answered the phone. Is there some other number we can reach her at?" Hailey stared into eyes like coals. She sighed.

"She'd be at home."

"She's not at work, is she?" Hailey spotted her red backpack. It was sitting near the end of the couch. Hailey grabbed her book bag. She threw it over her shoulders.

"My mother is-- between jobs," Hailey explained. Hailey picked up the ice bag she held against her head.

"Just leave it, honey," Ms. Johnson instructed. She squinted. "How can I get a hold of your mom? I have to let her know you been suspended."

Hailey dropped the bag of ice on the steel cart next to Ms. Johnson. "Just-- keep trying," Hailey suggested. "She'll answer, eventually."

Ms. Johnson shrugged. "Whatever you say, dear." Hailey studied Ms. Johnson's face. She nodded.

"I guess I'm leaving, then." Hailey walked to the edge of the office.

"Go with Don," Ms. Johnson instructed. "He has to escort you to the end of the property."

"Okay," Hailey responded. Hailey opened the door to the nurse's office. She stepped through.

"And, Hailey," Ms. Johnson added. Hailey looked over her shoulder. "Go home and lay down, honey. Nothin' strenuous for the rest of the day." Hailey nodded. She closed the office door. Don waited for Hailey on the other side of Ms. Johnson's door. A pair of tree trunk arms was crossed over Don's thick chest.

"Are you ready, Ms. Holloway?" the security guard asked. Hailey nodded. Hailey and Don walked towards the exit. The nurse's office was on the first floor. It was down the hall from a set of double doors leading outside. The main hallway was a tomb. Hailey was used to seeing it filled with students. "Are we heading to your car?" Don asked. Hailey looked up. She shook her head. Don nodded. "You got someone picking you up?" Hailey gazed into Don's cloud shaded irises. She smiled.

"I walk." Don squinted.

"You walk?" Don inquired. Hailey nodded. Don faced forward. "They told me you live across the freeway." Don studied emeralds attached to Hailey's corneas. "You walk here-- from across the freeway?" Don asked. "Every day?" Hailey and Don pushed through a set of double doors. They wandered down a walkway. Hailey raised her palms beside black and white stripes surrounding her biceps.

"Why does everyone keep asking me that?" Hailey requisitioned.

Don scratched his head. "'cause-- that's a long walk," he responded.

"It's only ten blocks," Hailey pointed out. Don stared at the parking lot. He shook his head.

"My daughter," Don explained. "She can't even make it to the car some mornings. That's too much for her."

"You have a daughter?" Hailey inquired.

Don nodded. "Every day," he responded. Hailey and Don stepped into the parking lot. Hailey looked down the sidewalk. She spotted Ms. Goodwin. Ms. Goodwin stared at Hailey's colorful face from the base of a carotene beehive. A sadistic grin warped the lower half of Ms. Goodwin's face. "Old bitty," Don whispered. Hailey studied Don's pale face. She smiled.

"Does your daughter go to school here?"

"She's still in middle school," Don responded. Hailey and Don wandered between parked cars. They arrived beside the main parking lot's outer sidewalk. Don walked with Hailey all the way to the northeast corner of the property. It was the same location where Hailey sat with Wednesday that morning. Don stood near the end of the sidewalk. He tilted his head back. He studied daunting clouds covering the sky. "You're sure you wanna walk home?" Don asked. "Looks like it's gonna rain." Don looked down. Hailey shook her head. She threw a striped hood over flame tinted locks dangling from her scalp.

"That's okay," Hailey responded. "I've walked in the rain, before." Don chuckled. He pointed between Hailey's emerald eyes.

"Don't come back until Monday," he instructed.

Hailey nodded. "Okay." Don turned around. He headed for the building. Hailey hopped off the edge of the sidewalk. She crossed the street. She made it to a row of sidewalk down the other side of the road. She spun on the toes of her canvas sneakers. She cupped pale fingers around her gloss coated lips. "Hey, Don!" Hailey shouted. Don stopped. He turned around. "Do you know what time it is?!" Don looked at his watch. He cupped his fingers around the edges of his mouth.

"Just after eleven!" he called back. Hailey waved. She turned around. She stopped halfway down the block. She didn't want to go home. She never wanted to go home, again. Hailey stood on a square of cement. She rubbed a gash carved along the back of her head. She pivoted ninety degrees. She looked across Dora Lane. There was a park two blocks north of the school. It was right by Wednesday's house. Since Hailey had the rest of the day off, she decided to hang out at the park. She could stay the night at Wednesday's. It sounded better than going home. Hailey dropped her backpack on the sidewalk. She opened it and rummaged around. She found two packages of peanut butter crackers and a bottle of water. Hailey returned her backpack to her shoulders. She hopped across Dora Lane. She glanced at the parking lot over her shoulder. Don was long gone. Hailey walked down Dora Lane, headed west. She made a right near the end of the block. She looked up. Lightning wandered along peaks of terrifying clouds. Thunder followed random tunnels of ions.




Chapter 7: "Ice Cold"
Table of Contents

It was freezing. And, it was pouring down rain. Hailey sat underneath an awning at Linda Park. She was across the street from Wednesday's house. Hailey sat on top of an aluminum picnic table. Hailey stared through quilts of rain. Her feet were propped on an aluminum bench fastened beside the picnic table. Hailey rubbed arms wrapped with soggy, striped columns. She crunched bites of peanut butter crackers between her teeth. She sipped bottled water. Hailey yanked her glasses off of her face. She used ends of soaking wet hoodie sleeves to wipe fog off the lenses of her glasses. Hailey returned her glasses to her face. She stared across the park. Rain fell by the bucketful. Hailey studied playground equipment. There was a long, tall swing set with four seats. A spiral chute slide was erected nearby. Outer surfaces of slide sections alternated between brown and yellow. Wednesday's house stood across the street.

Wednesday's home was a small, red brick house. It had a driveway but no garage. Wednesday's front door was bare wood. The rectangular cover glimmered from shiny polish. Wednesday's front door was decorated with tall, white numbers. The door was trapped behind a pane of storm glass. Hailey read numbers fastened to Wednesday's front door. She kept reading them. "Sixty-four fify-six," Hailey whispered inside her mind. From Linda Park, the roof of Wednesday's house slanted to the left and to the right. The peak of the roof was centered directly above the front door. A square shaped window was constructed along each side of the door. The windows were embellished with bare wood that matched the front door. Intersecting strips coated with polish created plus signs on top of rhombus glass panes.

Hailey felt like it was too dark to be noon. It looked like late evening. But, Hailey knew it was about twelve o'clock. Hailey jumped. Her head turned. Lightning formed a grid on top of a black canopy. Hailey felt on edge. But, she had a lot on her mind. She brazenly beat Travis' girlfriend-- right in front of him. Hailey dotted Jennifer's eye, bloodied her nose, knocked out her tooth, and bruised her ribs. Now, Hailey was trapped underneath an awning. She was sort of stuck there. Freezing cold rain poured from edges of an aluminum awning. Hailey couldn't get into Wednesday's house without breaking in. And, she couldn't exactly walk home-- at least, not until the rain let up. Hailey was trapped.

Wednesday told Hailey to go straight home half an hour earlier. She was worried Travis and his friends would try to retaliate. Hailey promised she would go home like Wednesday asked. But, she didn't. She felt foolish and ashamed. She was also a sitting duck. Hailey slipped off her shoes. She laid them beside navy blue denim surrounding her hip. Hailey's black, canvas shoes were soaked. Hailey's socks were soaking wet. Drenched rainbow stripes with tiny toe covers were stretched around Hailey's feet. Gusts of frosty wind made Hailey's sopping wet insteps feel like ice. Hailey rolled socks like columns of hard candy off of her footsies. She rested shivering toes on an aluminum bench. She reached forward. She twisted her socks like sponges. Freezing cold liquid gushed out.

Travis and Gary were several blocks away. The boys walked into a Bull's Eye department store. They dashed through automatic doors to escape freezing cold precipitation. Gary shook rain from his shirt. Travis slung jet black hair through his fingers. Shopping carts with blue, plastic bodies were lined up beside the entrance doors. Gary selected one.

"Jeez--" Gary groaned. "It's really coming down out there." Travis took off. Gary tried to follow his friend. He quickly realized he picked a shopping cart with a bad wheel. Gary's basket kept steering to the right. Gary studied the shopping cart's front, right wheel. A wad of hair poked out of a caster disc. "We need a different cart, Travis," Gary remarked.

"Shut the fuck up, Gary," Travis responded. "Just move your ass." Gary stared at soaking wet strands shuffling along Travis' scalp. Damp eyebrows flattened above Gary's pale irises. Gary followed Travis to the sporting goods section. "How many you think we should get?" Travis asked. Travis dragged the other end of Gary's shopping cart. He tugged it around a shelf filled with tennis equipment. Travis stopped pulling. He studied a shelf filled with aluminum baseball bats. "I think we should get eight," Travis remarked. Travis picked up a metallic slugger. He stood in front of a plastic shopping cart. He rested the body of an aluminum bat on his shoulder. He lifted fists clenched around a rubber grip beside his cheek. "One for everybody," Travis explained. Travis swayed his hips. He wiggled the end of the bat behind his head. He looked behind him. Gary studied his friend's sadistic face. He shivered. Gary's clothes were soaked. But, he didn't feel cold. Travis lowered the ball bat. "Your dad's paying, right?" he inquired.

Gary licked nervous lips. "I don't know, Travis," he replied. "I mean-- I have his debit card--"

"Eight, then," Travis barked. Travis tossed an aluminum bat into the shopping cart. He picked out four more. He tossed them in. Gary stumbled around the cart. He stood next to his friend. Travis picked up a pink, girl's softball bat. He showed it to Gary. Travis stared into Gary's eyes below flattened, lifeless brows. "Per-fect--" Travis croaked. He dropped the pink bat into the shopping cart. "One for my girl--" Travis explained. He chucked a second one into the basket. "And, one for yours."

Gary folded arms surrounded by tan tubes over his chest. "And, Vicky?" he inquired.

Travis pointed between Gary's pale, blue eyes. "Right," Travis agreed. He shook his head. He grabbed another pink bat. "She's also a chick." Travis tossed the third pink bat into the cart. Gary stared at aluminum bats piled along the bottom of his shopping cart. His lips wandered to the left edge of his face.

"Travis, are you sure you wanna do this?" Gary asked. Travis glared into his friend's eyes. Gary stared back, stupidly. "Is Hailey Holloway-- really that big of a deal to you? She's just a tiny, little thing." Travis grabbed a bat from his and Gary's basket. An aluminum slugger dangled from the fingers of Travis' right hand. Travis raised his palms beside his shoulders.

"Is it a big deal?" Travis repeated. Gary studied his friend's pale face. He shrugged. Travis gripped a rubber column wrapping one end of the bat. He grabbed the opposite end of a ball beater with the fingers of his free hand. Travis forced the body of the bat against Gary's throat. He shoved Gary to the floor. Gary collapsed on slick floor tiles. Caramel eyebrows jumped off of Gary's pale irises. Travis squeezed his friend's neck with an aluminum tube. "Think it through, Gary," Travis warned. Travis glared into Gary's eyes. Gary gritted frightened teeth. He gripped an ice cold shaft crushing his trachea. He struggled to force it the other direction. "We're not doing this," Travis explained. "It's already done." Travis tightened his biceps. He flattened Gary's windpipe. Gary squeezed his eyes shut. "If I have to explain this to you one more time Gary-- then you're next on my list." Travis studied his friend's terrified face. It was turning red. Travis looked up. An old man with a wrinkled face and silver hair stared back. A crinkled army jacket and a set of worn out jeans covered the elder man's non-athletic body. A set of grey eyes stared at Travis below frightened eyebrows. Travis glared back. "What-- the fuck are you lookin' at?" Travis demanded. The old man faced forward. He quickly pushed a shopping cart around the end of a shelf. Travis looked down. He lifted the baseball bat off of his friend's throat.

"Gahh!" Gary exhaled. He inhaled fresh air. "ahhh--" he breathed out. "ahhhh--" Travis was straddling Gary's waist. He shoved himself to his feet. He tossed the metallic slugger into the shopping cart.

"Now, hurry up," Travis ordered. "Move your ass." Gary lifted himself off of cold floor tiles. He collapsed on a handrail extending from the edge of the shopping cart. He sucked in fresh air. He shoved the basket in the direction of Travis' heels. Travis led Gary to the hardware section. Travis and Gary walked past mechanics' tools. They found a shelf stocked with rope. Travis picked up a bundle of twine.

"D-Did she say anything?" Gary squeezed out. He turned his head. He coughed into the sleeve of his jacket. Travis examined a long roll of thick rope. He faced his friend.

"Who, Hailey?" Travis inquired. Gary nodded. "Not much." Travis dropped the rope on a shelf. He looked at varieties of sash cord. "I think she talked a little shit." Travis picked up another bundle of rope. He examined lengths of twisted strands. "There we go," Travis remarked. "This is pretty good. Not too thick, not too thin--" Travis tossed the rope to Gary. Gary checked it out. He looked up.

"It's fine," he agreed. He dropped the bundle of rope into the cart. Travis turned around. He checked the aisle behind him. He spotted boxes of fluorescent light tubes.

"Hmm--" Travis groaned. He loaded a box of industrial bulbs into the shopping cart. Gary studied a long, rectangular box poking out of the basket. It was a box of twenty-four tubes. Gary studied sopping strands surrounding the back of Travis' scalp.

"Really??" he inquired.

Travis loaded three more boxes into the cart. "Where's the duct tape?" he asked. Travis led Gary around the end of the aisle. He tossed a couple of rolls of duct tape into the shopping cart. Gary and Travis wandered to the home and garden section. "Eight shovels, too?" Travis asked.

Gary shrugged. "Might as well." Travis and Gary grabbed eight spade tipped shovels. They chunked them into their cart. "Is that it?" Gary inquired. Travis looked around. He grabbed a hundred foot roll of baling wire. He snagged a set of snips that was stocked nearby. He dropped them into the cart. Travis stared at long boxes poking out of a plastic basket. He inhaled through his nose. He exhaled a long breath.

"Let's get outta here," Travis instructed. Travis looked over his shoulder. He studied a clock hanging on the wall. "Damn," he remarked. "It's already eleven fifty-three?"

"We're gonna have to skip third period, Travis," Gary responded. "There's just-- no other way."

Travis shrugged. "Won't be the first time." He tugged the shopping cart towards the front of the store. Gary pushed. The cart was heavy. It took a lot of effort for Gary and Travis to wheel their basket across the shop. Gary stared at the contents of his and Travis' shopping cart. He shook his head.

"My dad's gonna kill me."

"Fuck your dad," Travis belched. Travis looked over his shoulder. "You just tell him it's for a school project or some shit."

"Rightt--" Gary croaked. "And, what do I do when he asks to see it?"

Travis shrugged. "Tell him you had to turn it in for a grade." The boys found an empty counter. They tossed duct tape, rope, baling wire, and snips onto a conveyer belt. Gary wheeled his and Travis' shopping cart to a register. A young lady wearing a blue shirt and black britches scanned items rolling down a rubber belt. She dropped them into a plastic sack. The lady wandered around the end of the register with a plastic scanner shaped like a pistol. She scanned one of each bulk item. She walked to a keyboard. She added multipliers to Travis and Gary's ball bats, shovels, and light tubes. She looked up.

"Five fifty-two ninety-five," the young lady reported. Gary slid his dad's debit card through a plastic machine. He looked at Travis. He shook his head. Travis stared back. A set of fluffy, black eyebrows lifted above Travis' cornflower irises.

"Hope he doesn't have a limit on that thing," Travis remarked. Gary studied a tiny computer monitor. He reluctantly typed his father's pin number using rubber keys. The lady running the checkout counter printed a receipt. She handed it to Gary. She looked into Gary's eyes below hunks of short, blonde hair.

"That's an unusual shopping list," she remarked.

Gary pointed between the cashier's blue eyes. "School project," he explained. Gary tossed the sack of small items into his and Travis' cart. He pushed the basket towards the parking lot. Travis pulled the front end of a plastic cage. The boys stopped beside the store entrance. Rain was coming down so hard, Travis couldn't see his truck. Gary stared through double, glass doors. He shook his head. "Damn, Travis," he remarked. "It's coming down in sheets." He looked at his friend's pale face. "You got a tarp?"

"In the toolbox," Travis responded.

"Well-- why don't you back up to the door," Gary suggested. "And then, me and you can cover your truck bed." Travis nodded. "Then, we'll load everything underneath the tarp."

Travis plucked his keys from the pocket of his black jeans. "I'll be right back," Travis explained. He exited a set of automatic doors. He jogged to his truck. The older man that Travis confronted earlier stopped next to Gary. Gary looked at him. The elder man held a bag of potting soil under an arm wrapped in camoflauge. He stared at pouring rain through large panes of glass. The unknown man glanced at Gary. Pale eyes studied the contents of Gary's cart. Gary studied the man's wrinkled face. He looked at the floor. The old man opened an umbrella made from rainbow colored bands above silver head hair. He disappeared into the storm. Travis' truck backed up in front of the store entrance. Jennifer and Tate hopped out of the passenger doors of Travis' pickup. They hurried inside. Tate shook rain from long, blood red braids. Gary studied Jennifer's face. Jennifer's right eye was black. Her eyelids were swollen shut. Jennifer's nose was puffed up and red. Jennifer looked like Rudolf. She stared into Gary's pale irises. Jennifer's right eye looked pitiful. Her left eye seemed irritated.

"The fuck are you looking at?" Jennifer demanded. Gary stared at Jennifer's hideous precipice. He shook his head. He went outside to help Travis. Travis was laying a tarp across the bed of the pickup. Gary dropped Travis' tailgate. He hopped onto a shiny, black truck bed. He grabbed the other end of Travis' tarp. The boys stretched a plastic blanket across the tops of Travis' rear fenders. They tied rope hanging from tarp edges through eyebolts fastened to fender tops. Gary and Travis dashed into the store. Gary shook rain from his shirt. Travis slung jet black hair through his fingers.

"Good God, man--" Travis groaned. Travis, Gary, Jennifer, and Tate loaded equipment into the bed of Travis' pickup. Travis closed the tailgate. The quartet dashed into the rain. They plopped down in their usual seats. Vicky pulled up in her Station Cruiser. Paul, Joe, and Tommy were with her. Vicky drove to the front of the department store. She backed up beside Travis' driver's side door. Vicky and Travis rolled down their windows.

"Linda Park!" Vicky shrieked through thick precipitation. Travis stared into Vicky's dark brown eyes. He nodded. Tommy sat behind Vicky. He rolled down his window.

"You got the stuff, mann??" Tommy croaked.

Travis' annoyed irises studied dark shades covering Tommy's eyes. "That's fuckin' hilarious, dipshit!" Travis barked.

Joe leaned across Tommy's lap. "Mayun, Travis--" Joe groaned. "That bitch fucked with the wrong people!"

Paul leaned across Vicky's lap. "Let me ride with you!" Paul shouted.

Travis faced forward. "Aww, fuckk--" he snarled. Travis rolled up his window. His truck peeled out to the end of the parking lot. Vicky's Station Cruiser followed Travis' pickup.

Hailey laid on her stomach. Hailey's tits and her belly flesh rested on a striped hoodie blanket. Jacket coated arms were folded below Hailey's pale chin. Hailey's knees extended from her tiny, denim wrapped butt. Calves surrounded by rolled up pant legs hovered behind Hailey's thighs. Feet wrapped in rainbow stripes emerged from inside out denim. Hailey lowered the heel of her left foot above a pentagonal pocket stitched to the backside of her jeans. She oscillated her right foot towards cold concrete. Hailey pointed rainbow colored toes different directions. Then, she switched. Hailey's face emerged from the hood of her striped jacket. Her pale face was surrounded by curtains of flames. Emeralds stared through rectangular lenses. Hailey's pink, gloss coated lips formed a slight smile.

Hailey's bright red backpack lay in front of her face. It was unzipped. Pages of a textbook were visible below the outer half of Hailey's book bag. Hailey opened her school book inside her backpack in order to minimize damage caused by splashing raindrops. Emeralds floated from the left edges of Hailey's eyes to the right. Hailey reached inside her backpack. She flipped to the next page. A frog hopped next to Hailey's backpack. Hailey's pale face turned. Emerald irises wandered to the left corners of Hailey's eyes. They studied slimy skin the color of cucumber flesh. Hailey cupped tiny fingers over her lips. She chuckled, silently. She shoved her chest away from frozen cement with her palms. She swiveled her knees below her stomach. She rested her butt on rainbow striped heels.

Hailey leaned forward. She cupped gentle fingers in front of a pudgy, reptilian body. The frog plopped tiny, webbed fingers on the surface of Hailey's palm. It crushed its legs against its fat stomach. It hopped onto the surfaces of Hailey's fingers. Hailey carefully lifted pale digits in front of her face. She examined a freckled body shaped like a light bulb.

"Hey, little guy," Hailey whispered through smiling lips. The inner surface of Hailey's thumb touched a space between bulging, coal black eyes. Hailey grazed a spotted, chartreuse body the size of a billiard ball. "You're a fat little fucker, aren't you?" Hailey said softly. Hailey heard squealing brakes. She looked up. She spotted a black pickup. Orange flames were painted along the truck's front fenders. Hailey stared through pouring rain. The pickup's driver's side door opened. Travis plopped down in a puddle of mud. He glared at Hailey below sopping wet strands. He smirked. Gary, Jennifer, and Tate hopped out. "Ohh, shitt--" Hailey snarled.

Hailey gripped the frog's fat body between the fingers of her right hand. She dropped the pudgy reptile beside her backpack. Hailey zipped her book bag. She threw it over her shoulders. She dashed out of the picnic area. Hailey sprinted in the opposite direction of Travis' truck. Frosty precipitation battered Hailey's face and clothes. Hailey felt like she was running across a giant, sopping wet sponge. She looked down. Rain drenched rainbow socks were wrapped around Hailey's feet. Hailey left her shoes sitting on an aluminum picnic table. Hailey rolled her eyes. She looked beside her. Vicky's Station Cruiser collided with Hailey's hip.

"Ah!" Hailey shrieked. Hailey's socks skidded on shafts of drenched grass blades. Hailey's body floated above the hood of Vicky's car. Hailey collided with Vicky's windshield. Vicky slammed on her brakes. Hailey dropped on her back. Hailey's shoulder blades crushed striped fabric on wet pavement. Hailey's denim covered butt intersected cemented gravel. Hailey's red backpack toppled across the street. Hailey squeezed her eyes shut. She sucked air through her teeth. Hailey heard car doors closing. She felt fingers grabbing her arms and legs.

"Gotcha!" Tommy shouted. Hailey was flipped onto her stomach. Anonymous fingers ripped Hailey's jacket off of her body. Hailey pried her eyelids apart. Sets of strong digits pinned Hailey's arms against wet pavement. Soaking wet nightcrawlers crossed Hailey's wrists behind her back. Frozen fingers squeezed sopping wet, ginger locks hanging from Hailey's scalp. A tight fist crushed Hailey's face on top of oily pavement. Frightened emeralds studied the undercarriage of Vicky's Station Cruiser. Hailey exhaled panicked breaths into a freezing cold puddle. She struggled to lift her chest off of soaking wet asphalt.

"Hurry the fuck up!" Travis barked above Hailey's head. "We've gotta get her in the car before somebody sees us." Hailey heard duct tape unstrapping. Emerald irises floated to the tops of Hailey's eye sockets.

"Aww, fuckk--" Hailey groaned. She felt filament tape winding around her sopping wet wrists. Hailey detected tiny fingers crossing her ankles. Vicky folded Hailey's calves in front of her schoolgirl skirt. She studied soaking wet rainbow stripes. Vicky looked at Travis.

"Travis--" Vicky croaked. "Are you sure about this?" Travis' fingers collapsed on the breast of Vicky's vest. Travis shoved Vicky away from Hailey's legs.

"Get the fuck out of the way!" Travis belched. Vicky skidded backwards on soles of maryjanes. She showed Travis her palms. Travis gripped denim wrapped calves between his bicep and wrist. He wound six strands of tape around Hailey's rainbow striped ankles. Travis dropped Hailey's legs. He pointed at soaking wet silk stuck to Hailey's shoulder blades. "Stand her ass up," Travis instructed. Joe, Tommy, Vicky, and Paul gripped Hailey's biceps. They lifted Hailey off of soaking wet pavement. They stood Hailey in front of Travis. Hailey balanced on rainbow colored toes. Frantic emeralds searched fog drenched lenses. Hailey studied Travis' cornflower irises. She looked down. She inhaled heavy breaths. Travis squeezed Hailey's soft cheeks with the fingers of his right hand. He lifted Hailey's face. Hailey exhaled panicked whimpers. She looked up. She stared into Travis' eyes. Her lips quivered. Travis slid Hailey's glasses off of her face. He slipped them into his coat pocket. Hailey inhaled a frosty breath.

"Traviss--" Hailey whined. "P-Please don't do this to mee--" Hailey started bawling. She squeezed her eyelids shut. Steaming hot tears leaked out of the corners of Hailey's eyes. Jennifer stood beside her boyfriend. An infuriated eye and a peaking pupil studied soaked ginger strands plopped over the edges of Hailey's pale face. Jennifer sniffled through swollen nostrils. She stomped the sole of a suede boot.

"Look at me, you bitch!" Jennifer shrieked. Hailey sucked in terrified breaths. She forced sopping wet eyelids apart. "Look at my face!" Jennifer shouted. "Look what you did to me!" Hailey studied Jennifer's battered precipice. She exhaled an angry breath.

"You pushed me first, Jennifer!" Travis strapped a piece of duct tape over Hailey's lips. Hailey groaned into a sticky mouth covering. "Mmmm--" Travis looked around.

"Let's take her to church, guys," Travis remarked. Tommy's head popped up beside Hailey's face.

"All-right!" Tommy shrieked. "You're riding with us, sweet cheeks!" Tommy smacked drenched denim stuck to Hailey's tiny biscuits.

"Mmmm!" Hailey shrieked into an adhesive blanket. Tommy tossed Hailey over his shoulder. He hauled Hailey to the rear end of Vicky's Station Cruiser. Vicky opened the back hatch. Tommy dropped Hailey on old, crunchy carpet. The floor of Vicky's car stank like stale cigarettes and beer. Joe stood next to Tommy. He tossed in Hailey's backpack, her jacket, and her shoes. Vicky closed the back hatch.

"Anyone see us?" Travis requisitioned. Gary and Travis stood beside the grill of Vicky's Station Cruiser. Gary looked around. He shook his head.

"There's-- no one around," Gary responded. "And, it's so dark out here."

Travis smacked Gary's shoulder. "Well, move your ass," he ordered. Travis, Jennifer, Gary, and Tate hurried to the truck. "Church" was an old, abandoned warehouse across town. Travis and his friends called it "church" because one of the warehouse's walls was covered with a stained glass window. The Church was the group's secret hangout. Sometimes, Travis and his friends threw wild parties at the old, abandoned building. Sometimes, they asked people to meet them there for a fight. And sometimes, the Church was used for more sinister purposes. Vicky merged onto the Patrick Peterson. She headed west. Tommy looked over the back of his seat. Joe did, too.

Tommy slapped Hailey's butt. "Damn, Haileyy--" Tommy groaned. "You got a nice ass." Joe chuckled. "I think Travis oughta ditch that slut he's with and-- give you some of that Griffin stiffin'!" Hailey whimpered. The sound of Hailey's moan struck Tommy as odd. Tommy squinted behind lenses of black shades. He squeezed scrawny fingers around the shoulder of Hailey's sopping wet blouse. Tommy flipped Hailey onto her back. A strand of duct tape hung from the middles of Hailey's lips. Hailey exhaled terrified puffs through the left edge of her mouth. "Ah, shitt--" Tommy groaned. "I need more tape, guys." Tommy's fingers reached between Vicky and Paul's shoulders. Vicky's eyebrows lifted above her dark brown irises. Vicky checked her rearview mirror.

"Did she get loose?!" Vicky demanded.

Tommy yanked a chunk of tape off of Hailey's lips. "Nahh-- the tape came off of her mouth," Tommy explained. Hailey cleared her nervous throat.

"Duct tape doesn't-- stick to skin so good," Hailey told Tommy. Hailey swallowed. "You gotta, like-- wrap it around my head." Hailey's emerald irises wandered to the corners of her eyes. "Like-- a lot," she added. Hailey glanced at the lenses of Tommy's shades. A nervous laugh escaped her lips. Hailey shook her head. "I just-- happen to know." Tommy studied Hailey's colorful face. He wasn't sure what to think. Paul slapped a roll of duct tape onto the surface of Tommy's palm. Tommy stared at Hailey's pale cheeks. He didn't feel right. Joe stared at Tommy's bony face. Squinted eyes studied lenses of dark shades hovering below blue hair spikes. Joe yanked the roll of tape off of Tommy's lifeless fingers. He reached over the back of the seat. Joe strapped tape around Hailey's lips. He wound it around Hailey's head several times like she instructed. Joe plopped down next to his friend. He studied Tommy's confused face. Joe smacked Tommy's shoulder.

"Turn around, dumb-ayuss!" Joe instructed. Tommy examined Hailey's colorful face. He faced forward. He shook his head.

Inside Travis' truck, Gary finished rolling a joint. He reached between Travis' front seats. Travis snatched the doobie from Gary's fingers. He looked it over.

"That's a good lookin' joint there, Gary," Travis remarked. "I almost don't wanna smoke it." Travis plopped twisted tissue paper between his lips. He yanked a plastic knob out of his dashboard. He pressed a heated coil against the end of a marijuana cigarette. "All-most." Travis inhaled sticky, humid vapors. He handed the joint to Gary. Gary took a couple of hits. He handed the doobie to his girlfriend. Tate leaned forward. She plopped her cheek along the edge of Jennifer's seat.

"How's your eye?" Tatum asked. Jennifer raised her palms in front of her biceps. Furious eyebrows lifted above her pale, blue eyes.

"It fuckin' hurts, Tatum!" Jennifer shouted back. "It's-- throbbing!" Tate studied Jennifer's angry, bashed up face. She hit the bud stogie. He offered it to Jennifer. Jennifer's head turned. Jennifer snatched the pot cigarette from Tatum's tiny fingers. She faced forward. She sighed.

"Well-- you still look good," Tate remarked.

Jennifer looked above blue fabric covering her shoulder. "Shut-- up!" she snapped. Tatum's pale face hovered beside the edge of Jennifer's seat. Crimson braids surrounded Tate's dejected precipice. Tatum eased back. She plopped down next to her boyfriend.

Vicky and Travis turned onto Refugee Drive. They drove for a while. Refugee was an old, a lonely road. It felt isolated from the rest of the world. There was nothing around for miles. There was just-- the Church. An old, abandoned warehouse stood fifty yards from the east edge of Refugee Drive. It emerged from a field of grass. The edges of the road sloped. Land below Refugee Drive descended so low, the Church was not visible from the street. The Church was skinned with rusty panes of white tin. There were a few windows. They were all intact. Old, rotten swamp coolers hung from most of the building's window frames. They were painted the same color as the building. One of the walls facing the road was fitted with a huge pane of stained glass. It was not decorated with religious symbols. But, it prompted Travis and his friend's to refer to the building as "the Church".

Vicky drove off of the main road. Lightning struck. A growl filled empty air. Vicky drove across a patchy field. Travis followed. Vicky and Travis parked in front of an overhead door. It was suspended beside the building's stained glass window. Rain poured from the sky. Paul hopped out of Vicky's Station Cruiser. He dashed in front of a thick entrance door. Paul unlocked a doorknob with a key. He disappeared into the building. Lights began turning on. They followed Paul from one end of the shop to the other. An internal light illuminated the stained glass window. Then, the overhead door unlatched. It began rolling up. Paul became visible from the lower edge of the door. He was pulling a chain. Links opening the bay door looped from the warehouse floor to the ceiling. They turned a sprocket fitted beside the top edge of the bay. Vicky and Travis drove their vehicles inside. Paul quickly closed the door. Travis and Vicky turned off their engines. Everyone got out. Travis and his friends gathered around the rear end of Vicky's Station Cruiser. Vicky opened the hatch. Travis, Gary, and Paul dragged Hailey off of worn out carpet. They slammed the hatch door. Travis unraveled duct tape from Hailey's lips.

"Hello, fuck-face," Travis barked. "Did you miss me?" Travis cupped his fingers under Hailey's chin. He lifted Hailey's tiny face. He gazed into Hailey's emerald irises. "You can make all the noise you want, now," Travis explained. "No one will ever hear you." Hailey stared at Travis' blue eyes. Curious emeralds floated to the tops of Hailey's eye sockets. Everything looked blurry. Circular shop lights looked like giant, illuminated cotton balls. An overhead hoist hung above Hailey's head. Hailey studied blurry pallet racks and a forklift. A large, stained glass window was installed along one of the walls. It refracted colored sunlight onto a concrete floor. Gary and Paul held Hailey upright. Travis studied Hailey's pale face. He let go of Hailey's chin. "Nothing to say?" Travis inquired. Hailey looked into Travis' eyes. She licked nervous lips coated with carnation gloss.

"You guys are gonna kill me, aren't you?" Hailey requisitioned. Sadistic chuckles filled the dimly lit warehouse. Hailey stared at blurry, cornflower irises. She shivered. Travis knelt in front of sopping wet rainbow socks stretched around Hailey's feet. He unwound duct tape strapped around Hailey's ankles. He stood up. He unfastened drenched, silver strands securing Hailey's wrists. Travis wandered towards the bed of his pickup. He lowered his tailgate. Gary and Paul let go of Hailey's biceps. Hailey studied blurry faces. She couldn't see very well. So, she wasn't sure what to do. She watched Travis slide a long box off of his pickup bed. He laid it on the floor. Travis removed a long, white tube from the box. Hailey studied blurry artifacts. She figured she was in danger. But, she had no idea what was going on. Travis walked up. He cracked Hailey over the head with a long, white pipe. It disintegrated. Hailey collapsed on her butt. Her tiny cheeks crushed sopping wet denim on cold concrete. Hailey figured it out. Travis hit her with a light bulb. Hailey coughed. She waved a cloud of white dust away from her face. She heard giggling. Hailey squinted. She looked up. Travis loomed above Hailey's head. Hailey attempted to focus on Travis' blurry face.

"You can't see a thing, can you?" Travis inquired. Hailey stared at Travis' pale cheeks. She shook her head. Travis' friends walked up. Long, white tubes extended from sadistic fingers. Hailey studied ends of blurry bulbs. Hailey's apricot brows crushed the outer corners of her eye sockets. Hot crimson trickled down Hailey's face. Hailey listened to her blood dripping on concrete. Gary lifted a light tube above his head. Hailey watched Gary's blurry fingers. She guarded her face with her palms.

"N-Noo--" Hailey squeezed out. "Pleease--" Seven light tubes popped on top of Hailey's scalp. Hailey collapsed on freezing cold cement. She curled into a ball. She covered her face and shivered. Hailey lifted pale limbs off of her face. Shaking, blood drenched fingers dangled in front of Hailey's eyes. Tiny pieces of glass stuck to Hailey's claret stained flesh. Hailey could feel blood dripping off of her chin and cheeks. Warm bodily fluid leaked from Hailey's soft skin. It spattered cold concrete. Hailey trembled. She patted her hair with shaking fingers. Tiny shards and white powder tumbled out of Hailey's ginger locks. Hailey watched her blood drip onto the floor. It made her feel sick. Hailey inhaled a breath. She looked up. Travis and his friends surrounded Hailey's glass coated carcass. Light tubes extended from sets of blurry digits. Travis and his buddies held two bulbs a piece. Hailey buried her face between her knees. She folded her arms over the back of her skull. Sixteen glass tubes popped on top of Hailey's bleeding fingers and arms.

"AAHHHH!!" Hailey shouted into denim columns surrounding her cheeks. Hailey trembled. Her arms were soaked with warm liquid. Hailey lifted exposed limbs off of her frightened face. Crimson coated the surfaces of Hailey's wrists, elbows and biceps. Pointed fragments stuck to Hailey's blood drenched skin. Hailey felt like throwing up. She looked down. Her pink blouse was soaked with blood. Grains of shattered fluorescent lights stuck to Hailey's claret stained shirt. Thick fingers squeezed shut around the base of Hailey's blood drenched blouse. Hailey looked up. She found Travis looming over her. Travis dragged Hailey's shirt off of her pale skin. He slid the neck of Hailey's blouse away from flames sprouting from her scalp.

"Take it off, babyy--" Travis purred. Hailey hugged her naked ribs with blood soaked biceps. Wet crimson dribbled down Hailey's naked shoulders and chest. Hot claret pooled along the rim of Hailey's bra cups. Blood filled a gap between the peaks of Hailey's tits and black elastic covering her nipples. Travis grabbed Hailey's blood soaked wrists. He crossed them behind her back. Gary wandered up. He wound rope around Hailey's wrists. He fashioned twisted strands into a tight knot. Travis and Gary stood in front of Hailey. Hailey tightened her biceps. She attempted to pry bleeding, tied up wrists apart. Travis laid the toe of his sneaker on a plane of pale flesh between Hailey's tiny tits. He shoved Hailey's shoulders towards the floor.

"Ah!" Hailey shrieked. Hailey collapsed on bound wrists. Hailey's undressed shoulders flattened on frigid cement. The back of Hailey's skull bounced on flat concrete. Hailey squeezed her eyelids together. She gritted her teeth. Travis lifted Hailey's calves off of the floor. He tightened thick biceps around Hailey's denim wrapped knees. Gary crossed Hailey's feet. He wound rainbow striped ankles with rope. Gary fashioned a knot between Hailey's Achilles' tendon and her shin. Travis and Gary dropped Hailey's heels on slick concrete. They walked away. Hailey exhaled heavy breaths. Tops of blood soaked breasts swelled and relaxed on rows of nervous ribs. Hailey opened her eyes. Travis and his friends surrounded her. Everyone carried three light tubes a piece. Hailey looked around. Frantic emeralds studied tips of twenty-four glass bulbs.

"Ohh, Godd--" Hailey groaned. The octet battered Hailey's naked flesh with tube shaped lights. They used an entire box in one go. Tempered glass chutes exploded on top of Hailey's pale flesh. Hailey detected jagged shards slicing her face, her neck, her stomach, and the tops of her breasts. "AAHHHHHH!!" Hailey shouted. Hailey filled the warehouse with painful shrieking. She squeezed her eyes shut. She didn't want to look at her blood soaked flesh. Hailey's upper body was wrapped in a blanket of wet crimson. Pointed fragments were piled on top of cherry syrup. A cloud of white particles settled on blood leaking from Hailey's lacerated skin. Hailey turned her head. She spit blood and pieces of glass onto claret stained concrete. Travis laid the toe of his sneaker on top of dark blue denim covering Hailey's hip. He rolled Hailey onto her stomach. Hailey's breasts, biceps, and soft belly flesh collapsed on points of jagged shards. Hailey exhaled a painful groan. Travis and his friends surrounded Hailey. Hailey forced frightened eyelids apart. She looked over her blood drenched shoulder. Frantic emeralds studied blurry, incompassionate irises. Twenty-four glass tubes crashed on top of Hailey's naked arms and back. Hailey exhaled a terrified shriek into a cloud of white dust. Hailey's crimson bodily fluids leaked onto frosty, glass coated cement.

Travis kicked Hailey's undressed ribs. Hailey rolled onto her back. Points of broken glass sank into Hailey's elbows and shoulder blades. Hailey's wrists and her fingers became crushed on top of jagged crystals. Hailey groaned. She fidgeted on top of blood soaked shards. Hailey lifted her head. She studied her claret coated skin. Glints of light illuminated crystals floating on hemoglobin droplets. Hailey's chest was soaked. Thick skin protecting Hailey's stomach was painted red. Hailey looked up. Travis was looming over her. An aluminum baseball bat was slung over Travis' shoulder. Travis smirked. Hailey exhaled panicked breaths. Her heart pounded in her ears. Travis watched Hailey's blood drenched breasts. Hailey's tiny tits inflated and collapsed on peaks of terrified puffs. Travis lifted the bat behind his shoulders. He cracked Hailey's shin with an aluminum slugger.

"AAHHHHHH!!" Hailey shrieked. Travis chuckled.

"Heh-ha-ha! Ha-ha-haa!" Travis exhaled on short breaths. He inhaled humid air through grinning lips. "Ehh-ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-haa!!" Jennifer lifted a pink softball bat behind her shoulders. She smacked Hailey's other shin. Panicked shouts erupted from Hailey's terrified lips.

"AH! AHH! AHHH! AHHH!!" Hailey struggled to free her fingers so she could squeeze them on top of her shin bones. She crushed frantic digits and palm flesh on points of light tube particles. She felt tendons pulling in her shoulders. Travis' six friends joined him and his girlfriend. They all carried baseball bats. "Ahh, Godd--" Hailey groaned. "You guys-- pleease! Stop!" Travis, Jennifer, Gary, Tate, Vicky, Paul, Joe, and Tommy pounded Hailey's body with aluminum ball beaters. Hailey filled the shop with terrified cries. She panted like a dog. Travis and his friends bashed Hailey's blood soaked flesh until their arms were sore. Hailey's painful shrieks turned into frail whimpers. Everyone stood around Hailey's crimson soaked body. They stared at writhing, claret drenched flesh. Hailey squeezed puffs of humid warehouse air into her lungs. Tears trickled out of emerald eyes. Salty cornea droplets created pale streaks on blood stained skin. Travis dropped his bat.

"Untie her," Travis instructed. Travis' friends tossed aluminum sluggers on cold concrete. Gary knelt down. He untied Hailey's ankles. He flipped Hailey onto her stomach. He loosened strands securing Hailey's wrists. Hailey's fingers glided down wet crimson coating her lower back. Hailey's arms collapsed beside her ribs. Hailey inhaled heavy breaths. She closed her eyes. Hailey plopped throbbing palms beside her face. She tightened her biceps. She attempted to shove her chest away from glass coated concrete. Hailey's arms quivered. They gave out. Hailey's cheek collapsed in a pool of blood. Hailey exhaled into wet crimson surrounding her face. Travis and Gary grabbed Hailey's wrists. They dragged Hailey's battered carcass towards columns of pallet racks. "Paul," Travis barked. He pointed towards the bed of his pickup. "Get that baling wire out of there."

Paul retrieved a pack of smokes from the pocket of his jeans. He offered Vicky a cigarette. Vicky and Paul plopped cigarettes between their lips. Paul took out a lighter. He intersected the end of his stogie with a tangerine flame. He suspended a cigarette lighter in front of Vicky's coffin nail. He looked into Vicky's eyes. He shook his head. Paul wandered to Travis' pickup. He retrieved a roll of baling wire and a set of wire cutters. He made his way across the Church. Paul glanced at Vicky. Vicky shook her head. Paul took a drag. He plucked a cancer stick from his lips. A cloud of cigarette smoke followed Paul across the shop. Paul offered Travis the roll of baling wire.

"Here," Travis instructed. Travis suspended Hailey's left wrist beside his neck. Gary dangled Hailey's right hand in front of his shoulder. "Tie her ass up." Paul plopped his smoke between his lips. He unrolled a few feet of wire. He snipped it. He wound metallic rope around Hailey's left wrist. He twisted it. He wound the other end around a slat, higher up. Paul pulled it tight. Thick wire lifted Hailey off of her feet. Hailey balanced on different colored toes. Heels wrapped with rainbow stripes hovered above cold concrete. Paul exhaled smoke through his nostrils. He twisted the top end of the wire. He cut another piece.

"We could-- just end this," Paul suggested.

"We're not finished yet," Travis explained. Paul snipped off more wire. He suspended Hailey's other wrist from the pallet rack. Hailey hung from her palms. Travis stood back. He crossed his arms over his chest. He watched Hailey writhing in pain. Hailey began panting like a dog. She started to panic. Travis looked at Paul. He pointed at Hailey's feet. He snapped his fingers.

"Traviss--" Paul exhaled through cigarette smoke. "Can we just-- end this, already?" Travis glared at the lenses of Paul's sunglasses. Bushy eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Travis' nose.

"Do it!" Travis shouted. "Before I stomp a mud-hole in your ass!" Paul stared into Travis' cornflower irises. He picked up the baling wire. He clipped off ten more feet of lead rope. He wound one end around ankles like rolls of hard candy. He lowered the opposite edge below a slat underneath Hailey's feet. Paul tugged thick wire. Hailey's leg muscles ached. Her arms felt like they were about to pop out of their sockets. Hailey's head collapsed between her shoulders. Hailey exhaled a tortured breath. Paul twisted the baling wire. He backed up. He stood beside Travis and Gary. Paul sucked on his cigarette. He shook his head.

"Get up there," Travis ordered. "Tell Hailey what you think about her." Paul exhaled cigarette smoke from his nostrils. He looked beside him.

"Tell her what I think??" Paul inquired. Travis studied octagonal sapphires covering his friend's eyes. He raised his palms beside his biceps.

"Yeah," Travis responded. "Tell her what you think." Paul walked in front of Hailey. Hailey's feet were suspended twelve inches above the floor. Yet, Paul's face was even with Hailey's. Hailey lifted her head. Hazy emeralds stared at blue lenses surrounding the bridge of Paul's nose. Paul tapped the end of his cigarette. A cylinder of ash toppled off of the end. Paul plopped the coffin nail between his lips.

"Are you in pain?" Paul whispered. Hailey stared at lenses made of dish soap. She swallowed blood. She nodded. Paul studied Hailey's claret drenched face. "I'm sorry my friend Travis-- is such a sadistic, arrogant ass-hole," Paul said quietly.

"We can't hear you!" Travis taunted. Paul yanked a cigarette away from his face with the thumb and index finger of his right hand. He inhaled through his lips.

"You're a fuckin' geek!" Paul hollered. Paul looked into Hailey's emerald eyes. He breathed smoke out of his nose. "I was talking to Travis," Paul whispered. Hailey tried to laugh. Instead, pitiful whimpers shook Hailey's quivering shoulders. "None of this--" Paul explained, quietly. "None of this is your fault. Okay, Hailey?" Hailey gazed at the lenses of Paul's shades. Her eyelids collapsed. Her head tilted between her shoulders. Paul swiveled on toes of unmatched sneakers. He wandered away from the pallet rack. "Kill that red-headed bitch!" Paul shouted. "Hyah! Hyah!"

Paul walked to the other end of the room. Everyone else joined Travis and Gary. Paul opened the front, passenger door of Vicky's Station Cruiser. He sat down. He plopped his cigarette between his lips. He crossed his arms over his chest. Paul's friends continued assaulting Hailey. Joe and Gary smashed the remaining light tubes over Hailey's head. They screamed obscenities into Hailey's face. Tatum, Vicky, and Jennifer beat Hailey with pink softball bats. Jennifer enjoyed every second of it. Tate and Vicky were just doing what they were told. Tommy stepped up to the plate. He stared at Hailey's blood spattered face. Hailey gazed back. Sagging eyelids surrounded the tops and bottoms of Hailey's pupils.

"God damn it, Tommy!" Travis shouted. "Do something, you retarded mother fucker!" Tommy gazed into Hailey's eyes. He looked over his shoulder.

"I'm good, Travis!" Tommy enthusiastically responded. "String-- her-- up!" Tommy looked into Hailey's emerald irises. Careful lips uncovered Tommy's smashed up teeth. "I'm sssorry--" Tommy whispered through missing bicuspids. Tommy joined the others. Paul emerged from Vicky's Station Cruiser. He wandered across the warehouse. Travis looked over his shoulder.

"Paul--" Travis instructed. "Cut that bitch down." Paul retrieved the wire trimmers. Travis and Gary grabbed Hailey's biceps and wrists. Paul clipped baling wire squeezing Hailey's wrists and ankles. Hailey collapsed in Travis and Gary's arms. The boys carried Hailey below the overhead hoist. A heavy duty hook hung from a steel cable. Gary laid Hailey over Travis' shoulder. He grabbed a controller. He lifted the hook as high as it would go. He grabbed the rope he and Travis purchased. He tossed one end through a steel hoist hook. Paul caught twisted strands. Gary forged the other end of the rope into a noose. He fashioned a hangman's slipknot with thirteen loops.

Gary tossed Travis the noose. Travis and Gary suspended Hailey's limp carcass by its biceps. Travis stretched a loop over Hailey's face. He lifted flames hanging from Hailey's scalp. He squeezed the hangman's knot against the back of Hailey's neck. Travis looked at Paul. Paul tightened the rope. Hailey stood on rainbow colored tip-toes. Hailey's cheek collapsed on her naked shoulder. Hailey's eyelids squeezed themselves shut.

"ahhh--" Travis sighed. He stood in front of Hailey. He stared at Hailey's crimson stained face. "Well, you crazy stalker bitch--" Travis croaked. "I certainly enjoyed this." Travis crushed angry fingers around flame tinted strands hanging from Hailey's temple. Hailey squeezed out a pitiful groan. The inner corners of Hailey's eyebrows pointed at the bridge of her nose. Travis lifted Hailey's face. He stared at Hailey's closed eyelids. "I hope it was worth it," Travis added. Hailey forced exhausted eyelids apart. Hailey's pupils studied Travis' blurry irises.

"Go ffuck yourself--" Hailey mumbled. Travis' head tilted back. His cornflower blue irises floated to the tops of his eye sockets. Travis raised his palms beside his shoulders.

"Ohhh--" Travis groaned. "For fuck's sake." Travis stared at Paul above his shoulder. He shook his head. "You believe this crazy cunt?" The lenses of Paul's shades faced Travis' eyes. Paul's head swiveled back and forth. Travis' fingers collapsed on black denim surrounding his hips. Travis pointed towards the ceiling. "Do her a fuckin' favor, Paul," Travis instructed. Paul walked backwards until Hailey's head was an inch from the hoist hook. Gary walked next to Paul. He wrapped his fingers around twisted strands between Paul's scrawny digits and Hailey's neck.

"I got it, Gary," Paul explained. Gary looked at Paul's blue sunglasses lenses. He stepped back. Paul wasn't being noble. He didn't need Gary's help. Hailey's frail carcass weighed less than eighty pounds. Hailey's limbs twitched. Hailey wiggled like a fish out of water. She reached up. Tiny fingers struggled to squeeze between a strand of rope and Hailey's neck. After sixty seconds, Hailey went limp. Hailey's lifeless limbs hung from defeated shoulder sockets. Paul held the rope tight for an additional sixty seconds. He lowered Hailey's body onto a sheet of cold concrete. He looked at Travis and Gary. "You guys brought shovels, right?" Paul asked.

Travis stared at sapphire stop signs concealing Paul's irises. "Yeah, Paul--" Travis snapped. "We brought shovels." Travis licked his lips. "Let's grab some floor dry and some brooms and clean this shit up real quick."




Chapter 8: "Grounded"
Table of Contents

Travis and his friends decided to bury Hailey somewhere far away from the Church. Too many people knew about it. Malley was littered with vacant lots on the outskirts of town. Just like the Church, most of them were below the road base-- out of sight. This made it difficult to see people burying a body from the road. The best thing Travis and his buddies had going for them was the number of people involved. Since Travis and Gary bought enough shovels for everyone, they could get rid of Hailey's body very quickly. Then, they could hurry back to class. Travis skidded off of a rain soaked back road in the middle of nowhere. He drove down to a vacant lot. Travis tried to drive on patches of grass. That way, his tire tracks would be obscured as much as possible. Travis parked on a grassy knoll. Vicky parked her Station Cruiser behind Travis' pickup.

"This is as good of a place as any," Travis remarked. Travis checked a display fastened to his truck's CD player. It was 1:17. Travis walked to his tarp covered pickup bed. He was joined by Gary. The boys gathered eight shovels they purchased at Bull's Eye. Travis and Gary scattered shovels along a patch of mud. Everyone else gathered around. "Alright," Travis declared. "We've got about forty minutes to do this. Or else, we're gonna be late for our next class." Travis looked around. "So, y'all don't be messin' around."

"Does someone have a cigarette?" Tate asked.

Travis pointed at Tatum's banana yellow top with the fingers of his right hand. "This is exactly what I'm talking about," Travis snapped. "We don't have time for this!" Paul offered Tate one of his stogies. Paul reached across a puddle of mud. He lit Tatum's cigarette. "Let's move it, people!" Travis barked. He clapped his hands together, twice. Everyone dug like crazy. They stabbed wet earth with spade tipped shovels. They slopped soaking wet dirt beside a Hailey sized hole. Travis stomped mud out of his way. He watched his friends like a hawk. When the hole looked deep enough, Travis stabbed the blade of his shovel into a patch of muck. The handle of Travis' shovel poked out of sopping wet dirt. "Alright, everyone!" Travis called. Travis' friends stopped digging and looked up. "That's deep enough. Let's get the body."

Everyone gathered around the rear end of Vicky's car. Lightning formed a grid above Travis and his friends. A loud thunder crack followed. The rain finally let up. But, masses of tyrannical clouds threatened additional precipitation. Vicky opened the Station Cruiser's rear hatch. Travis and his friends unloaded trash bags filled with shattered light tubes and blood soaked floor dry. They grabbed two liners filled with blood drizzled bats. Another plastic sack was stuffed with chunks of rope, duct tape, and baling wire. Travis and his friends tossed everything into the hole they dug.

Before loading Vicky's Station Cruiser, Travis and his buddies spread trash bags on top of the floor. They laid Hailey's corpse on top. They piled trash bags containing evidence on top of Hailey's blood soaked flesh. Travis and his friends dragged empty trash sacks along the floor of Vicky's car. They passed plastic liners carrying Hailey's carcass like pallbearers unloading a coffin. Hailey was still shirtless. Hailey's upper body, face, and the cups of her bra were coated with drying blood.

Vicky grabbed the end of Hailey's trash bag hammock. She stared at rainbow striped socks stretched around Hailey's feet. She shook her head. Everyone laid Hailey's body on top of trash sacks plopped down in the mud. Travis returned to Vicky's Station Cruiser. He grabbed Hailey's striped hoodie, her pink blouse, her black canvas shoes, and her glasses. Travis stuffed Hailey's belongings into her red backpack. He slung Hailey's book bag over his shoulder. He slammed Vicky's back door. Travis dropped Hailey's backpack on top of her naked stomach. Everyone shoveled dirt on top. They buried Hailey in a mad frenzy. Then, they returned their shovels to the bed of Travis' pickup. Travis counted shovels. Then, he slammed his tailgate. He looked around.

"Okay, everyone," Travis ordered. "Let's drop these shovels off at the Church. Then, we gotta get back to class." Travis headed for his driver's side door. Jennifer, Gary, and Tate wandered towards their usual seats. Paul, Joe, and Tommy headed for Vicky's Station Cruiser. Vicky stood on a patch of grass. She folded her arms on top of her black vest. Vicky's brown eyes watched Travis between curtains of chocolate hair. Furious, dark brown eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Vicky's nose.

"Why did we kill that poor girl, Travis??" Vicky demanded.

Travis stopped beside the driver's side door of his pickup. "Aww, fuckk--" Travis groaned. Travis gripped a potted metal handle fitted into the upper, right corner of his truck door. He looked over his shoulder. "Here we go with this shit."

"We could've beat her up," Vicky suggested. "We could've spread rumors about her, or-- done something at school and publicly humiliated her--" Paul stood beside Vicky. He laid his fingers on the collar of Vicky's black vest. Vicky swatted Paul's apprehensive digits away from her bicep. "Or, we could've just taken her somewhere and scared the living piss out of her." Vicky shook angry fingers in front of her shoulders. "Why did we have to kill her?"

Travis plopped his forehead on the surface of his palm. "Oh, Vickyy--" Travis groaned. He smiled and shook his head. He looked into Vicky's chocolate irises. "You know-- you just can't see the forest for the trees, sometimes." Vicky lunged at Travis. Paul grabbed the end of Vicky's shirt sleeve. Vicky teetered on toes of mud spattered maryjanes. Vicky pointed between Travis' cornflower irises.

"Did you see how scared she was?!" Vicky shrieked. "She wasn't gonna do anything! She wasn't gonna-- say anything to anyone!" Paul surrounded Vicky's shoulders with his plaid wrapped biceps. He wrapped his arms around Vicky's waist.

"Vicky!" Paul whispered beside Vicky's fiery face. "It's not worth it. Stop." Vicky glanced over her shoulder. Angry lips lifted off of Vicky's clenched teeth.

"I-- don't-- care!" Vicky squeezed through mashed together incisors. Travis grinned. He stepped away from the driver's side door of his pickup. He approached Vicky and Paul.

"Well, first of all--" Travis croaked. "We didn't kill anyone." Travis stopped in front of brown leather protecting Vicky's toes. He pointed between sapphire lenses covering Paul's eyes. "He did." Vicky pried Paul's protective wrists off of her waist. She stood on toes of leather dress shoes. She pointed at the middle of Travis' condescending precipice.

"Travis!" Vicky shrieked. "You fucking ass-hole! You planned this whole thing! You and Gary bought the supplies! You decided what we were going to do-- how we were gonna do it--!" Travis' fake grin disappeared. He popped Vicky right in the nose. Vicky collapsed on a patch of rain soaked grass. Her blue schoolgirl skirt fluttered up her pale thighs. Maryjanes strapped around knee length socks sank into dirt soup. Paul watched Vicky collide with precipitation drenched grass blades. He inhaled through his nose. He exhaled through his lips. Joe and Tommy knelt down beside Vicky's shoulders. They tried to help her. Paul looked at Travis. Travis stared back. He smirked. He bobbed his head. Paul reached up. He dragged octagonal sapphires away from his eyes. He folded his shades, neatly. He deposited them into the breast pocket of his red, plaid jacket.

Travis shrugged. "What?" he asked. Paul's leg swung like a golf club. Paul kicked Travis in the nuts. Paul's shin crushed Travis' testicles against the underside of his crotch. Travis dropped to his knees. He squeezed his fingers between his thighs. Jet black brows lifted off of Travis' eye sockets. Travis' lips formed an "o". "AAHHHH!!" Travis shrieked. Paul's furious fingers squeezed shut around Travis' throat. Paul lifted Travis by his neck. Paul's forearms and biceps crushed Travis against the tailgate of his pickup. Gary grabbed Paul's plaid blanketed wrist.

"Whoa!" Gary shouted. "Paul-- calm down, man!" Paul's face tilted. The edge of Paul's skull crashed into Gary's nose. Gary's fingers dropped off of Paul's wrist. They squeezed shut around Gary's stinging honker. "Mrrrr!" Gary snarled into surfaces of surprised palms. Travis stared into Paul's eyes. Paul had heterochromia iridis. His left eye was chocolate brown. His right eye was a pale shade of teal. Paul's alien eyes glared at Travis' cornflower irises.

"Now, you listen to me-- Travis," Paul sternly explained. Travis grabbed a hold of Paul's wrist. He stared into Paul's furious face. Tan eyebrows lifted above Paul's multi colored irises. Paul squeezed Travis' thick neck. Travis gritted his teeth. He grunted through mashed together bicuspids. His frantic fingers released Paul's wrist. Gary watched Paul above blood drenched fingers squashed on top of his nostrils.

"God dab, Paul!" Gary shouted through crimson soaked lips. Tate stood beside her boyfriend. She grabbed tan jacket fabric surrounding Gary's shoulder. Paul pressed his forehead against Travis'. The end of Paul's nose flattened Travis' pointed honker.

"Listen to me, you fuck!" Paul snarled.

"All-riight!" Travis shouted back. Paul shoved his face against Travis'. Travis' skull tilted over the top of his tailgate.

"If I ever see you hit her again, you fucking faggot--" Paul belched. "I'll snap your fuckin' neck like a twig." Jennifer studied Paul's angry fingers squeezing Travis' neck. Jennifer's chocolate eyebrows pointed down the bridge of her nose. Jennifer tightened furious fists beside amber denim stretched around her hips.

"Paul!" Jennifer shouted. "Put my boyfriend down!" Paul's furious face swiveled on the end of his neck. Paul's demonic irises stared at Jennifer's battered cheeks. Paul tossed Travis beside his truck. Travis collapsed on soaking wet grass beside his pickup's rear, driver's side tire. Vicky was sitting up. Blood leaked from her nostrils like a faucet. Tommy sat beside Vicky. He stroked Vicky's shoulder. Joe sat beside Vicky's left hip.

Paul retrieved his shades from the pocket of his coat. He covered his eyes with sapphire lenses. He knelt down in front of Vicky. Hot crimson poured out of Vicky's nostrils. Tears trickled out of Vicky's chocolate brown eyes. Vicky gazed into glass cleaner slats covering Paul's irises. Paul cradled the back of Vicky's neck with his fingers. He squeezed Vicky's nostrils together with his thumb and index finger. He tilted Vicky's head back.

"P-Paull--" Vicky groaned.

Paul looked beside him. "Tommy, is there a tissue?" Paul asked.

Grinning lips revealed Tommy's jagged teeth. "Ffuck no--" Tommy blew through a gap between crooked incisors. Paul studied Vicky's blood soaked lips. He reached inside his jacket. He grabbed torn fabric hanging from the end of his worn out t-shirt. He peeled an elastic strip along the base of his punk rock top. Paul reached up. He wadded black t-shirt fabric on top of Vicky's nostrils.

"I'm literally giving you the shirt off of my back," Paul remarked. Vicky blew a nervous laugh into backs of sealed lips. Vicky reached up. She crushed shaking fingers on top of Paul's. Paul slid skinny digits away from Vicky's. He brushed soft, chocolate strands away from Vicky's face. He curled gentle fingers below Vicky's left eye. He swatted a tear away from Vicky's pale cheek. "You want Tommy to drive?" Paul asked.

"F-Fuck you--" Vicky exhaled through smiling lips.

Tommy gripped Vicky's shoulder with gentle fingers. "Aww, come on--" Tommy purred. "Let me drive, schoolgirl." Vicky reached inside the opening of her dress shirt. Dark brown eyebrows lifted above Vicky's chocolate irises.

"Will you drive, please?" Vicky asked Paul. Vicky dragged her car keys out of a space between her bra cup and the base of her left titty. She dangled her keys beside Paul's cheek. Jennifer helped Travis to his feet. Travis rested a bicep and wrist wrapped in black leather along the ends of his girlfriend's shoulders. Gary and Tate stood beside the passenger's end of Travis' pickup. Tate crushed blood soaked tissues on top of her boyfriend's nostrils. Gary studied the lenses of Paul's glasses. He bobbed his head. Paul stared at Gary over his shoulder. He turned around. He helped Vicky to her feet.

Vicky, Paul, Joe, and Tommy piled into the Station Cruiser. Paul fired up the engine. He popped a cigarette between his lips. He handed one to Vicky. Paul cranked down his window. He lit Vicky's cigarette. Then, he watched Travis and the others climb into the pickup. Paul ignited a coffin nail hanging from his lips. Travis' pickup skidded to the road. Paul followed.

"You're right, Vicky" Paul commented.

Vicky wiped her nose with blood soaked t-shirt fabric. "I fucking know I'm right," Vicky replied. She sniffled. Paul and Travis merged onto the Patrick Peterson. They headed east. Vicky flipped down her sun visor. She studied her reflection in a tiny mirror. She wiped blood off of her face with a wad from Paul's punk shirt. She wiggled her nose. Vicky flipped her visor up.

Paul shook his head. "It doesn't make any sense," he remarked. "Killing that girl."

"Of course-- it doesn't," Vicky responded. Vicky sniffled droplets of blood. "Why the fuck-- did we just do that??" Joe sat behind Vicky. He leaned forward. Joe's head appeared between Vicky and Paul's shoulders.

"Travis sayud she was some kind of styalker or some shit," Joe explained. Paul glanced at shaggy, black hair hanging from Joe's scalp. He nodded.

"Yeah, I heard him say that," Paul agreed. Paul glanced at Joe's ocean blue eyes in Vicky's rearview mirror. "I never heard what she did, exactly."

Vicky blew a breath through her lips. "Jennifer pushed her first," she responded. Vicky looked above the edge of her schoolgirl vest. She studied Joe's bony face. "I heard Hailey say that before Travis-- taped her mouth shut."

Paul nodded. "Yep. I heard that, too." Vicky cracked her window. She tapped cigarette ash into a space near the top of her window glass.

"It's bullshit!" Vicky spat. Vicky plopped a cigarette between her lips with the first and second fingers of her right hand. She cyphoned a cellulose filter. She inhaled between her teeth. "Jennifer pushed her. And then-- Hailey got up and tried to fight back." Vicky shook angry fingers in front of her chest. "What was she supposed to do? Just let her push her around?" Joe folded his fingers together below his chin. He glanced at Vicky's dark brown eyes.

"Well, she was like-- tryin' to flirt with Travis out in front of school this morning. Right?" Vicky exhaled cigarette smoke from her lips. She looked into Joe's eyes.

"I'm pretty sure that's why we just killed her, Joe." Vicky shrugged. "Are you okay with that? Another girl can't even say 'hello' to Travis?" Vicky stared into space through wild eyes. "We have to kill her??" Paul adjusted the rearview mirror. He studied blue spikes poking out of Tommy's scalp. Tommy stared out of the rear, driver's side window.

"You alright back there, Tommy?" Paul asked. "I get nervous when you're quiet for longer than sixty seconds." Joe settled into his seat. He studied the back of his friend's spiked scalp.

"Yeah, mayun--" Joe groaned. "You alright over they-uh?" Tommy studied passing pavement. He faced forward. He sank into padding covering his seat back.

"She ain't no fuckin' stalker, yo," Tommy explained. He turned his head. Lenses of dark shades studied Joe's blue eyes.

"Why do you say that, Tommy?" Paul asked from the driver's seat.

Tommy relaxed against puffs supporting his shoulders. "Aww, mann-- that's just some bullshit Travis said so that we could put her in the dirt."

Paul tilted his head. "Pretty sure that's right, Tommy," Paul replied. Paul looked out of his window. "Pretty sure you're right."




Chapter 9: "A Comet"
Table of Contents

Comet X/598 K1 (also known as "Hailey's Comet") was observed by the late scientist Emmanuelle Hailey during a two week period in September, 598 AD. The surprising structure manifested in the night sky for fourteen straight days. And then, it disappeared-- never to be seen again. Its size and trajectory were not known. And, the cosmic body seemed to follow a non-linear orbit that was never properly calculated. The name "Emmanuelle Hailey" was later determined to be an alias used by many different people to document misunderstood phenomena. It was never verified Emmanuelle Hailey was a real person who actually existed. Conjecture about this continues to this day.

Legend has it, Comet X/598 K1 returned to the night sky two days before Travis and his friends buried Hailey Holloway in the desert. The poorly documented satellite plunged from the depths of known reality and came for a visit. The galactic anomaly would've been so far away, viewing it without a powerful telescope would have been impossible. And, well-- not many were looking. From the city of Malley, X/598 K1 would not have been visible the night Hailey Holloway took a dirt nap. The sky was filled with thick rain clouds. It's said that the reappearance of Hailey's Comet coincided with some unusual events. However, little proof exists of such things.

Perhaps Comet X/598 K1 had something to do with what happened in Malley that night. It's possible Paul didn't strangle Hailey long enough. Pockets of air trapped between garbage bags could have given Hailey enough oxygen to survive below a covering of soaking wet dirt. If Travis, Jennifer, Gary, Tate, Vicky, Paul, Joe, and Tommy buried Hailey close to the surface, it's also possible Hailey would be able to breath through a thin layer of topsoil. Maybe Travis and his friends should have concentrated less on torturing their target and focused on ending her life. The method they used to kill Hailey was violent and horrifying. However, it was not a very effective form of execution. Hanging Hailey with a rope was the only fatal blow that was struck. The rest was just glamour.

At 8:30 Thursday evening, Hailey Holloway began to stir underneath a blanket of rain soaked muck. Hailey awoke from a dream. She felt like she was sleeping. She found herself lying peacefully, unable to move. Hailey wondered if she was experiencing sleep paralysis. She quickly discovered she was covered up. She was able to wiggle, slightly. But, a heavy sarcophagus was holding Hailey in place. Hailey was able to breathe. But, particles of rich soil were caked over Hailey's nostrils and the edges of her lips. Hailey knew her face was covered with dirt because-- she could smell it. She wasn't sure how she could breathe. She was just thrilled that she could.

Hailey tried lifting her eyelids. Skin flaps protecting Hailey's corneas were sealed shut by heavy muck. Hailey figured she should wait to open her eyes in case they were coated with soil. Hailey tried extending her fingers. She tightened tendons attached to her toes. Hailey could feel ends of tiny fingertips forming cavities. She detected toes covered with rainbow caps forging empty chambers. Before long, Hailey began bending her elbows and her knees. Arm joints chiseled chasms in loose dirt. Denim wrapped kneecaps sank into heavy topsoil.

Hailey tried to remain calm. It concerned Hailey that she might run out of oxygen. She had no idea what condition her body was in. She was in a lot of pain. Her arms, legs, shoulders, back, ribs, and abdomen ached. Hailey remembered what happened earlier that afternoon. She was horrified by what Travis and his friends did to her. She certainly did not expect to survive. She wasn't sure she did. But, she pushed her concerns to the back of her mind. Suggestions of despair appeared inside Hailey's mind. They faded from Hailey's thoughts like printed text drifting away from sealed irises. Hailey focused on moving. She lifted her shoulders. She felt naked biceps lifting off of a plastic sheet. She heard trash bags rustling.

Hailey remembered Travis ripping off her blouse. She assumed she was buried that way. Hailey could feel her backpack resting on top of her stomach. She wondered if there was anything useful inside of her book bag. Hailey lifted her wrists. Hailey's tiny digits poked out of sopping wet soil. Freezing cold precipitation poured onto pale skin protecting Hailey's fingers. Hailey tightened her biceps. She forced aching elbows out of heavy muck. Hailey sank soil coated palms into dirt soup surrounding her ribs. Hailey gripped drenched clay between sopping wet digits. She lifted her shoulders off of a plastic sheet. She forced her face through loose topsoil. Rain drenched goop stretched Hailey's eyelids, lips, nostrils, and cheeks like cling wrap.

Hailey sat up. She found herself sitting in a patch of mud. Dirt soup slopped off of Hailey's face, chest, and shoulders. Rich muck pooled below the bottoms of Hailey's breasts. Rain poured over Hailey's pale skin. It was freezing cold. But, it felt refreshing. Hailey sat under a waterfall for a minute. She squeezed her red backpack against her chest. Hailey had no idea where she was. She didn't really care, either. She was happy to be alive. And, Travis and his friends were nowhere to be found. None of Hailey's mom's psycho boyfriends were waiting to assault her, either. Hailey was totally at peace-- sitting in a puddle of mud. Hailey lifted tiny fingers beside her shoulders. Freezing torrents poured between Hailey's exhausted digits.

"This-- is the way life was meant to be," Hailey purred. Hailey crushed sopping wet limbs around the edges of her book bag. She dragged her battered body out of a refrigerated mud hole. Hailey tossed her backpack onto a patch of grass. She lifted her right foot. She reached below folded denim surrounding her calf. She rolled mud soaked rainbow stripes over her heel and down her instep. Hailey plopped soft skin protecting the bottom of her foot on top of drenched topsoil. Hailey's tiny toes sank into moist clay. Hailey lifted her left foot. She dragged a candy roll off the toes of her left tootsie.

Hailey rolled her rainbow socks together. She tossed them beside her backpack. She bent over. Hailey noticed cuts and bruises decorating her wrists, biceps, chest, and stomach. She was curious how badly she was beaten. Hailey took off her jeans. She unrolled navy blue denim wadded along the lower rims of her pant legs. Hailey reached between her shoulder blades. She unfastened hooks securing her bra. Elastic bands hopped off of Hailey's pale skin. Nylon harnesses dropped off of Hailey's shoulders. Hailey's biceps collapsed beside her ribs. Her bra straps glided to her elbows. Hailey's skull sank into her shoulders. Her head tilted back. Her eyes closed.

"ahhhh--" Hailey groaned. Hailey dragged wire frames squeezed underneath her tits away from her ribs. She dropped her bra on top of her backpack. Hailey forced her thumbs between black elastic and pale skin surrounding her hips. Hailey dragged her panties to her ankles. She tossed black nylon underwear on top of soaking wet bra cups. Hailey collapsed on the base of a hill. She plopped down on soft grass blades leading from a desert valley to a nearby street. Hailey's scratched up shoulder blades crushed cold, damp foliage. Her aching hiny sank into emerald tufts sprouting from the edge of the road. Frigid rain poured onto Hailey's naked flesh. Heavy precipitation pummeled Hailey's bruised skin. It was like a massage.

Hailey rested under torrential rain for a little bit. Her mind wandered. Hailey wondered how badly she was beaten. Curious eye flaps lifted off of thoughtful emeralds. Hailey looked inside her backpack. She found her glasses, her blouse, her jacket, and her shoes. Hailey grabbed a gold plated earpiece extending from the left end of her spectacles. She put on her glasses. Hailey plopped down on the base of the hill. She looked down. Faint lacerations like papercuts spotted the tops of Hailey's breasts. They were barely noticeable. Hailey bled like a stuck pig when Travis and his friends battered her with light tubes. But truthfully, Hailey wasn't cut very badly.

Hailey flattened her left tit with the fingers of her right hand. She searched pale skin covering her ribs. Tiny cuts decorated Hailey's ivory flesh. They were like scratches. Hailey examined thin slashes coating her knuckles and fingers. She flipped her hands. She studied tempered glass indentations the size of grains of rice. It wasn't too bad. Hailey crushed her tiny tits. She folded her legs. Curves of pale thighs extended from Hailey's hips. Aching heels surrounded Hailey's buttocks. Toes decorated with pink acrylic pointed at each other below Hailey's knees. Hailey studied bat shaped welts decorating her thighs. They were the color of eggplant skin. Hailey lifted her toes off of frozen foliage. She pointed foot digits decorated with carnation acrylic at the sky. Violet bruises spotted Hailey's shins and her calves. Plum shaded rings like baling wire bracelets surrounded Hailey's wrists and ankles. Soles of tiny feet plopped down on tufts of wet grass.

Hailey looked at her stomach. Eggplant blotches stained Hailey's pale belly flesh. Bruises shaped like aluminum sluggers surrounded Hailey's navel. Hailey sat up. She looked over her shoulder. She studied tiny cuts and purple welts coating her shoulder blades and her lower back. Hailey lost a little blood. And, she was a little achy. But, it wasn't so bad. Hailey stood in front of her backpack. She slid soaking wet panties over her hips. She squeezed into rain drenched bra cups.

Hailey picked up her jeans. She lifted tubes of navy blue denim below a precipitation waterfall. She examined drenched pant legs. Any mud that collected on the surfaces of Hailey's jeans was gone. Hailey buttoned her jeans around her waist. She took out her blouse. She held up pink silk in a torrent of three inch raindrops. Hailey's shirt was soaked with blood. There was no way to salvage it. Hailey tossed her silk shirt over her head. She situated pink fabric over the curves of her upper body. Hailey slipped drenched toes inside of black, canvas shoes. She threw her striped hoodie over her shoulders. She fastened chrome zipper teeth in front of crimson coating the surface of her blouse. She stretched black and white stripes over sopping wet ginger hanging from her scalp.

Hailey scanned the horizon. She spotted car headlights wandering across the edge of the sky. She figured she was looking at the Patrick Peterson freeway. Hailey tossed her backpack over her aching shoulders. She dropped on her hands and knees at the base of a hill. She scrambled to the top. Hailey dragged herself onto soaking wet pavement. She shoved herself to her feet. She hooked exhausted thumbs under tomato shoulder harnesses supporting her book bag. Hailey stared through fog soaked rectangles. The Patrick Peterson was a good distance away. Hailey figured it was about half a mile. Hailey had no idea how far she was from home. She didn't even know what time it was. She figured it was probably after eight.

Hailey headed for the freeway. Rain was coming down in sheets. It was not walking weather. Hailey wondered if she should start packing an umbrella in her school bag. Periodically, Hailey wiped fog and water droplets off the lenses of her glasses. Hailey wanted to dunk herself in a nice, hot bubble bath. Then, she wanted to snuggle underneath her yellow and black quilt. She felt like squeezing her stuffed calico kitten in her arms and closing her eyes. Then again-- she wondered if her mom's psycho boyfriend was in her bedroom, waiting for her. Tangerine bolts scorched black lint covering a violent canopy. Roars erupted from points of electrical filaments. Hailey watched jagged plasma tubes through fascinated emeralds. Tiny, teal squiggles repeated inside Hailey's optic nerves.

Hailey's backpack felt like it was filled with bricks. Hailey dropped her bright red book bag on drenched asphalt. She plopped down on top. She reached behind the lenses of her glasses. She sank her fingertips into skin flaps covering her eyes. She stared at seaweed flashes until they disappeared. Hailey's tiny fingers collapsed on her thighs. Hailey searched buckets of rain. There wasn't much to look at. Plains spotted with patches of grass stretched along the edges of the road. Hailey scanned deserted streets parallel to the one she was hiking. An old, decrepit tree stood beside Hailey. Distant city lights were visible between bald limbs. Hailey watched the right hand sky. A lightning fishnet appeared along the horizon. White bolts wandered up cumulus towers. Hailey faced forward. She was a quarter mile from the freeway.

Hailey stood up. She adjusted her backpack harnesses along the surfaces of her deltoids. She hooked her thumbs under bright red straps supporting her textbooks. Hailey walked carefully along slippery, deserted pavement. Rain soaked Hailey's clothes. Freezing precipitation coated Hailey's exposed skin. Hailey heard rain battering fast moving windshields. Hailey's tiny ears detected rubber treads skipping along soaked pavement. Beams extending from quick traveling lamps illuminated columns of falling water.

Hailey reached the Patrick Peterson. She wandered to the edge of the freeway. She looked right. She could tell that direction led into town because the right hand sky was lit by city lights. She knew she was staring down the west end of the freeway. A sign poking out of the edge of the road was labeled "Highway 1812, West." Hailey could see pavement all the way to the horizon. She was on the outskirts of Malley. Hailey figured she was ten miles outside of the city limits. Her house on Cherry Lane was three miles into town. Hailey was so far out, the sign she found referred to the freeway by its state issued number. Emeralds behind fog coated lenses followed highway steet lamps to the horizon. That bubble bath seemed far away. Then again, so did Larry.

Hailey wandered along the edge of the freeway. She wondered if anyone would be kind enough to give her a ride to her house. She figured no one would want to. Hailey was soaked. Her sopping wet clothes would ruin somebody's upholstery. Hailey hooked her thumbs under her backpack's shoulder harnesses. She didn't mind being away from home. For that matter, Hailey didn't mind sleeping on the edge of the freeway. She didn't have to go back to school for three days. She did not have to study for any tests. She didn't have to do anything but wander around, aimlessly. Hailey did worry she might be spotted by Travis and his friends. She wondered what they would think if they saw her.

A light blue car pulled onto the shoulder. It stopped next to Hailey. Hailey froze. She looked beside her. She stared at the flat body of an eighties model Cammy. The rumble of a V-8 engine made tiny hairs along the back of Hailey's neck stand on end. Hailey peered through a glass rhombus erupting from the top of a steel passenger's side door. She saw a familiar face. It was a young man from Hailey's Psychology class. Shaggy, brown hair hung in front of Hailey's classmate's dark eyes. Pale cheeks emerged from sloppy, chocolate strands. Thick chops framed Hailey's classmate's chiseled face. The driver reached across a console. He opened the passenger door. A set of nervous coals studied Hailey's colorful face through shaggy strands.

"Um-- Hi, Hailey," the driver shyly remarked. Somebody did stop to help Hailey. Apparently, somebody cared about her. The driver wore a black shirt with a collar. Hailey studied dark irises behind a chocolate fountain. Sopping wet apricot wedges flattened Hailey's eye sockets.

"You're Lloyd--" Hailey croaked. "Lloyd-- Freeman." The driver smirked. The corners of his lips creased his cheek.

"You-- know my name," Lloyd responded. Happy pearls showed between Lloyd's smiling lips. Lloyd lifted confused fingers in front of his shoulders. He looked beside stripes climbing Hailey's bicep. "What the fuck-- are you doing out here?" Lloyd asked. "What happened??" Hailey folded frozen fingers in front of her lips. Apricot eyebrows crushed the outer corners of Hailey's eye sockets. Hailey's eyes teared up. She wasn't sure she wanted to share her story. Most imperatively, she didn't feel like sharing it in the rain. Hailey's frosty digits dropped on sopping wet denim surrounding her hips.

"I--" Hailey squeezed out. Hailey sighed. Hailey squeezed her thumbs under her backpack straps. "I need someone to give me ride home," Hailey explained. "I know that." Lloyd pointed between Hailey's emerald eyes. Thick brows lifted above his eye sockets.

"Well, I'll give you a ride. That's why I stopped." Hailey's fingers fell off of her book bag harnesses. Hailey shook frustrated fingers in front of her shoulders. She looked at sopping stripes hanging down her chest.

"I'm-- soaked!" Hailey groaned. She looked up. "I'm gonna ruin your--" Hailey examined Lloyd's seat covers. Shredded, light blue fabric hung from padded frames. Yellow foam poked out of torn vinyl strips. Lloyd shooed Hailey with his fingertips.

"Aww-- fuck this piece of shit," Lloyd responded. Lloyd pointed at worn out upholstery with the tips of his fingers. "You're not gonna hurt it. Get in." Hailey exhaled a frozen breath. She slipped inside a slender door frame. She plopped down on shredded vinyl. Hailey stared at pouring rain through Lloyd's windshield. She felt out of place. Lloyd offered Hailey a set of masculine fingers. "Give me your backpack," Lloyd instructed. Hailey squeezed soaking wet biceps out of tomato red harnesses. She handed Lloyd her book bag. Lloyd stared at sopping canvas the color of tomato skin. "Jeez--" Lloyd groaned. Lloyd tossed Hailey's backpack between his and Hailey's seats. Hailey sank into padded vinyl. She reached beside her. She swung Lloyd's passenger door towards the body of the Cammy. Lloyd glanced at Hailey's pale face. He noticed tiny cuts. Hailey shut the door. A dome light switched off. Hailey looked beside her. She studied Lloyd's dimly lit face. She exhaled exhausted breaths.

"W-What?" Hailey inquired. Lloyd reached beside his steering wheel. He rolled a knob. The dome light turned on. Lloyd studied Hailey's soft cheeks. Shiny coals followed tiny lacerations spotting Hailey's skin. Hailey's irises focused on chocolate strands hanging from Lloyd's forehead. Hailey stared in a daze. Lloyd laid shy fingers along the rim of Hailey's hood. Lloyd's gentle digits froze.

"You mind if I take this down?" Lloyd asked. Hailey stared at Lloyd's coal shaded irises. She shook her head. Lloyd gripped edges of a striped cloak. He shifted soaking wet fabric down Hailey's flame tinted locks. He wadded Hailey's hood around the base of her neck. Lloyd rested against his seat's backrest. He folded his arms over his chest. He inhaled through his lips. "Hailey, who did this to you?" he asked. Hailey stared, stupidly. Emeralds wandered to the corners of Hailey's eyes. Hailey faced Lloyd's windshield. She wasn't sure she wanted to explain. Lloyd noticed a purple ring surrounding the beginning of Hailey's throat. He jumped. "Aww, Haileyy--" Lloyd groaned. Hailey faced Lloyd. Lloyd reached above his console. He lifted drenched, ginger strands. He studied Hailey's bruised skin. Hailey watched Lloyd's eyes. Nervous lips uncovered her teeth.

"What is it?" Hailey asked. Lloyd gazed at emeralds behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. He reached beside Hailey's neck. He mashed a rope shaped welt below Hailey's jawline with the tip of his thumb.

"Does that hurt?" Lloyd inquired. Hailey hugged her neck with her shoulders. She wrinkled her face. She sucked air through her teeth. She nodded. Lloyd reached above Hailey's head. He flipped down a sun visor. Hailey faced forward. She studied her reflection in a tiny mirror. Emerald irises traced a slender welt surrounding Hailey's throat. Hailey examined lacerations like paper cuts decorating her face. Lloyd settled into his seat. "You know-- Hailey," Lloyd croaked. "It's really none if my business. Um--" Lloyd looked beside him. He smirked. Dimples sank into Lloyd's cheeks. "Where do you want me to take you?" Hailey hugged her ribs with her biceps. She shivered. Lloyd dragged a stick near the middle of his dashboard. Heat began pouring out of plastic vents. Lloyd aimed a set of polystyrene deflectors at Hailey's chest. Hailey leaned forward. She lifted sopping wet fingers in front of heated air. She looked beside her.

"I live on Cherry Lane," Hailey explained. She checked a readout near the top of Lloyd's CD player. It read "9:18". Lloyd nodded. He shifted into first gear. He drove away from the edge of the freeway. Hailey lifted her sun visor. She kicked off her sopping wet shoes. Lloyd turned off his dome light. He listened to Hailey patting nervous feet on rubber caps fastened to the toes of her sneakers. Lloyd smirked. He grabbed a pack of smokes from a compartment beside his CD player. He offered one to Hailey. Hailey looked up. She shooed Lloyd with her fingers. "No, thank you," Hailey remarked. Lloyd plopped a cigarette between his lips.

"I heard you beat up Jennifer Rogers, today," Lloyd stated. Lloyd's coffin nail flopped between his lips when he spoke. Hailey exhaled through a smile. She studied Lloyd's sideburn.

"How did you hear about that?" Hailey asked. Lloyd plucked a lit cigarette from his lips. He exhaled a tube of white mist.

"Lots of people were talking about it," Lloyd responded.

"Really?" Hailey asked. Lloyd looked into Hailey's emerald eyes. He nodded. Lloyd figured Hailey's fight with Jennifer had something to do with her current situation. He wondered if Travis and his little "gang" jumped Hailey. But, Hailey didn't seem like she wanted to talk about that. So, Lloyd didn't ask. Hailey studied chocolate strands hanging from Lloyd's scalp. Hailey's lips formed a grin. "How do you know my name?" Hailey inquired. Lloyd shifted into third. He glanced at Hailey's emerald irises. He smiled.

"How do you know my name?" Lloyd asked. Hailey studied the edge of Lloyd's face. She licked her lips.

"I don't know." Lloyd shifted gears. He switched his lips to the left edge of his face. He glanced at Hailey's emerald eyes.

"I know who Abraham Maslow was," Lloyd responded.

Hailey smiled. "Yeah?" She looked at Lloyd. "Because-- Because what I said in class, today?" Lloyd looked beside him. He nodded. He glanced out of his windshield.

"We haven't talked about Maslow in class," Lloyd replied. "I, uh-- I had to look him up in our textbook."

Hailey exhaled a nervous breath through smiling lips. "Lloyd, that's-- sweet." Hailey studied Lloyd's face. Lloyd yanked a cigarette away from his lips. "You looked up Maslow because-- I was talking about him?" Hailey asked. Lloyd exhaled cigarette smoke. He looked at Hailey's eyes. Hailey grinned. "Lloyd-- why didn't you just--?" Hailey licked her lips. "You-- like me?" Lloyd tapped cigarette ash through a crack along the top of his window. He stared at rain pounding his windshield. He squeezed his lips together. Hailey inhaled through smiling lips. She exhaled a heavy breath. "L-Lloyd--" she groaned. Hailey dropped frustrated palms on soaking wet denim strapped to her thighs. "Why didn't you-- say something?" Lloyd stared at passing street lights. He sighed. He squinted behind sloppy strands hanging down his face.

"I was--" Lloyd glanced at Hailey's emerald eyes. "I was working my way up to it." Hailey studied bushy sideburn hairs poking out of Lloyd's right cheek. She smiled. She faced forward. She shook her head. Lloyd glanced at flames pouring out of Hailey's scalp. He took a drag. He inhaled between his teeth.

"You remember the first day of class?" Lloyd asked. Hailey looked next to her. She licked her lips.

"I think-- Mr. Tinney asked me about motivation? Is that right?" Lloyd glanced at Hailey. He nodded. Hailey inhaled through her lips. "Pretty sure I talked his ear off about it." Hailey looked towards Lloyd's driver's seat. Lloyd studied emerald irises behind panes of glass. He faced forward. He inhaled through his lips.

"There are four factors that govern motivation," Lloyd explained. "Biological-- emotional-- social-- and, uh--" Lloyd squinted. He tilted his head. "Shitt--" Hailey folded her arms over her chest. She watched Lloyd's face.

"Uh-- cognitive," Hailey reminded him.

Lloyd pointed at his windshield with the end of his cigarette. "Cognitive--" Lloyd grumbled. "That's the other one." Lloyd glanced at Hailey. "I found that fascinating. I had no idea you could--" Lloyd pointed his coffin nail at his steering wheel. "Catalog a person's motivation and try to understand their behavior."

Hailey nodded. "You looked up motivation, too?" Lloyd looked into Hailey's eyes. He nodded. Hailey faced forward. "You like me because I like-- Psychology?"

Lloyd exhaled cigarette smoke through a gap above his window. "At that moment," Lloyd explained. "I thought-- you were an angel." Hailey blew a breath through smiling lips. She squinted. Lloyd tapped cigarette ash through the top of his window. "I thought you were the most-- beautiful girl I ever saw." Lloyd gripped the edge of his lip with his teeth. He glanced at Hailey's colorful face. Hailey studied Lloyd's pale cheeks. She inhaled a slow breath.

"Ohhh--" Lloyd looked into Hailey's emerald irises. He smirked. He faced forward.

"I also thought you were the most intelligent person I ever listened to." Lloyd smiled at Hailey. "I always enjoy listening to you speak in class." Hailey stared at dark irises hiding behind Lloyd's shaggy hair. She was not used to being flattered. She wasn't sure how to respond.

"Jeez, Lloyd--" Hailey purred.

Lloyd shooed Hailey with fingers surrounded by cigarette smoke. "I said too much," Lloyd remarked. Lloyd looked at Hailey's emerald irises. "Would you like to listen to some music?" Lloyd asked.

"Sure," Hailey responded. Lloyd turned on his CD player. Hailey watched Lloyd's masculine fingers press a plastic button. A smoldering tobacco tube extended from Lloyd's strong digits. Hailey felt like holding Lloyd's hand. She decided to reciprocate Lloyd's honesty, instead. "That little-- skit you did for the class?" Hailey remarked. "When Mr. Tinney put us all in groups and made one person pretend to be crazy--"

Lloyd nodded. "Yeah, I remember."

Hailey smiled. "And, you pretended to be schizophrenic?" Mysterious irises glanced at Hailey behind sloppy strands hanging from Lloyd's forehead. Hailey cupped nervous fingers in front of grinning lips. She dropped apprehensive digits in her lap. "I thought-- that was really thoughtful."

Lloyd smirked. "Aww, shit--" he croaked. He took a puff from his cigarette.

Hailey pointed at Lloyd's face with the fingers of her left hand. "I thought you did that just a little too well." Lloyd chuckled. He glanced at Hailey's ginger locks. Hailey gazed back. "And, I also thought-- you were incredibly handsome."

Lloyd inhaled cigarette smoke through grinning lips. "You did not think I was handsome!" Lloyd grumbled.

Hailey plopped shivering fingers on her chest. "I did!" she admitted. Hailey tapped her teeth with a nervous fingernail. She folded her hands on sopping wet denim covering her lap. "That's how I knew your name." Lloyd studied antsy emeralds behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. He faced the road.

"Oh," Lloyd purred. "I see." Hailey squeezed her fingers between her thighs. She licked her lips.

"There," Hailey stated. "Now, we both said too much." Hailey listened to witty guitar picking, thumps of drums, and crashing cymbals. She recognized the song Lloyd played. Hailey looked beside her. She pointed at Lloyd's CD player. "Who is this?" Hailey asked.

"Y-K-C," Lloyd responded through cigarette smoke. Hailey heard Travis' truck playing the same song when it drove by on Dora Lane. She recalled thumps of bass pounding her chest when Travis' pickup drove by. Hailey thought about Travis. She pictured his pale, sadistic face. She felt like killing him. She felt like choking the life out of him-- then watching him gasp for his last breath.

Lloyd stopped in front of Hailey's house. He parked beside a curb. He killed the engine. Hailey looked around. Larry's T-Bird was nowhere in sight. Hailey's mom's S.U.V. was parked on a driveway near the left end of the house. Hailey inhaled through her lips. She exhaled a gratified breath. Hailey looked beside her. Lloyd searched Hailey's yard. He looked into Hailey's eyes.

"Lloyd, thank you so much," Hailey remarked. Lloyd smirked. The ends of Lloyd's smiling lips creased his cheek.

"You're welcome," Lloyd responded. He looked away. He scratched the back of his head. "I-I enjoyed this more than you might think," Lloyd admitted. Hailey chuckled. Lloyd reached between his front seats. He held up Hailey's bag. It was dripping wet. Lloyd shook Hailey's book bag. He looked into Hailey's eyes. "This thing is ridiculous," Lloyd remarked. Hailey exhaled a breath through grinning lips. "It's soaked!" Lloyd handed Hailey her backpack. Hailey rested her school bag on her lap. She licked her lips.

"Give me your number," Hailey instructed. Lloyd stared into Hailey's emerald irises. He grinned.

"My what?" he asked.

Apricot brows lifted above Hailey's eye sockets. "Lloyd--" Hailey ordered. "Write down your phone number-- and give it to me." Lloyd snickered. He reached behind his seat. He collected a three ring binder and a pencil from his backpack. Hailey slipped her feet inside of sopping wet, canvas shoes. Lloyd scratched down his number on a sheet of notebook paper. He yanked the nearly empty page out of his notebook. He offered it to Hailey. Hailey snatched the sheet of paper from Lloyd's fingers. She studied Lloyd's handwriting. It was sort of messy. But, it was legible. Lloyd also chose to write his number between the first and second lines on the page.

"You got suspended, right?" Lloyd asked.

"Yeah," Hailey responded. She looked up. "I'll be back on Monday." Hailey folded the sheet of paper Lloyd handed her. She got out of Lloyd's Cammy. She dangled her backpack in front of her knees. She rested her face beside Lloyd's door. She looked into Lloyd's eyes. "I'll call you this weekend," Hailey promised. Lloyd smiled. He nodded.

"Okay," he responded. "Bye, Hailey."

"Bye," Hailey replied through grinning lips. She shut Lloyd's passenger door. Lloyd watched Hailey go. Hailey tossed her soaking wet book bag over striped shoulders. She turned around and hurried towards her house. Lloyd watched Hailey's tomato school bag swivel along the curve of her back. He studied Hailey's denim wrapped hips shifting below the base of her backpack. Hailey looked over her shoulder. She smiled. She waved. Lloyd waved back. He started his car. He did a U-turn and drove away. Hailey opened her house's floppy storm door. The front door was actually closed. Hailey was shocked. She tried the knob. Oddly enough, she found it unlocked.




Chapter 10: "Dissociation"
Table of Contents

Hailey opened the front door of her house. Larry dangled a blood soaked axe down his spine. He grunted. He swung the head of an axe at the living room floor. The back of Larry's t-shirt glowed from dim thundercloud refractions. Larry's sleeveless top hovered above pale denim like a hard rock harbinger of death. Hailey reached behind her. She snagged the floppy screen door. It was about to slam shut. With her free hand, Hailey grabbed a knob poking out of the front door. If it opened any further, the hinges would squeal.

Hailey eased the screen door into its frame. She looked between Larry's cruddy boots. Her mother's blood drenched body was sprawled on top of the carpet. Larry buried an axe blade between Hailey's mom's shoulder and the edges of her ribs. Helen's wrist and bicep dropped on the floor. Hailey looked through a gap separating Larry's legs. She studied a twisted, blood spattered face. Hailey's mother's terrified precipice looked like it was made out of clay. Helen's tongue dangled from her scowling lips. Her eyelids sank into her eye sockets. Pale blue irises stared at the ceiling. Hailey assumed her mom was strangled by a set of oversized, catcher's mitt hands. The perpetrator was busy getting rid of the evidence.

Hailey went numb. A gap like a desert crater replaced Hailey's working memory. Hailey felt like she was laying on an ocean floor. Her limbs felt like they were suspended in high pressure saline. Hailey's head tilted forward. Hailey watched her feet slide out of her shoes. Feminine toes dotted with carnation pink acrylic nudged sopping wet canvas sneakers beside the door. Hailey watched her bright red backpack slide down her left arm. The fingers of Hailey's left hand rested her book bag on top of her shoes. Hailey's eyes checked Larry's position. Larry lifted the axe above his head. He sank hardened steel into Hailey's mom's right leg. A blood drenched blade sliced the air in two. Diverting gasses vibrated Hailey's eardrums. Helen's leg joint cracked. Larry's axe head created a thump when it collided with worn out carpet.

Hailey's head tilted forward. Hailey watched her heels lift off of the floor. She observed carnation dotted toes carrying denim coated legs. She didn't feel crunchy felt gliding along the bottoms of her feet. And, she didn't detect ice cold kitchen tiles sliding under her pale digits. Hailey stared at handles of kitchen knives. White cleaver grips poked out of a wooden block beside a steel sink. A foul stench erupted from a tower of disgusting dishes poking out of a molded wash basin.

Hailey watched tiny digits poking out of a striped jacket sleeve. Hailey's bony fingers squeezed shut around a slick, white handle. Pale nightcrawlers eased a long blade out of a wooden sarcophagus. Hailey's face turned. Mechanized irises studied Hailey's mother's sadistic sweetheart. Hailey watched the edges of her index finger and thumb. Flesh coated instruments swung the end of a knife handle. Hailey's fingers tilted. Hailey's scratched up digits squeezed shut around a shiny grip. The blade of a kitchen knife poked out of Hailey's closed fist. Hailey floated across the kitchen like a balloon.

Lightning flashed through nicotine stained windows. Thunder rattled loose walls. Hailey's silent feet carried her across crispy carpet. Larry sank an axe blade into Hailey's mother's last limb. A carpeted thump compressed Hailey's eardrums. Larry balanced on the handle of a wood chopper. He studied Helen's bony, lifeless neck. Hailey's feet wandered five additional steps. Hailey stood behind Larry's back. Emeralds studied a rock band's logo decorating the back of Larry's t-shirt. Hailey's fingers shoved the point of a butcher's knife between Larry's legs. A razor sharp tip penetrated worn out denim covering Larry's crotch. A nine inch blade sank into Larry's family jewels.

"AAAAAAAA!" Larry wailed. The axe dropped out of Larry's fat fingers. A polished, pine handle dropped on blood stained carpet. Hailey's tiny fingers twisted a blade squeezed between Larry's testicles. Blood gushed from Larry's genitals. It soaked into carpet below Hailey's undressed footsies. "ooooooo--" Larry groaned. Larry's sloppy upper body bent over. Hailey's fingers slipped blood soaked steel out of Larry's crotch. "aaAAAA--" Larry girgled. "haAAAA-- haaaAAAA--" Larry dropped to his knees. "aaaahh--" Larry puffed out. "eeaahh--" Larry coughed. "Ohhh--" he groaned. "Ohh, Haileyy--" Larry's hideous face turned. Cold, dead eyes stared at Hailey above Larry's hairy shoulder. "Awww-- jeezz--"

Hailey's fingers snagged bits of black hair poking out of Larry's balding head. Hailey's mechanized digits jerked Larry's head back. Hailey's ears pounded. Terrified shrieks sank into Hailey's ear canals. Horrified shouting pounded Hailey's eardrums. Larry's piercing eyes popped open. Terrified coals stared into Hailey's eyes.

"AAHH! AAAHH!" panicked shrieks belched. The fingers of Hailey's right hand lowered the blade of a blood soaked butcher's knife below Larry's fat chin. Hailey's digits dragged a razor sharp plate across Larry's throat. "AAAAHH!" mortified vocal chords shouted. "AAAAAAHH!!" Blood poured from Larry's neck. It soaked crumbling artwork decorating the surface of Larry's t-shirt. Larry opened his mouth to speak. He tightened his lips. Nothing came out. Larry pitched forward. His face collapsed on Hailey's mother's tits. Breasts entangling fat cheeks sounded like raw fish smacking concrete.

Hailey collapsed on worn out carpet. Her tiny hiny crushed soaking wet denim on stacks of flesh formed along the soles of her feet. Hailey's wrists and fingers collided with navy blue fabric covering her thighs. A blood stained kitchen knife dropped out of Hailey's limp digits.

"Haaaa--" Hailey squeezed out of a sore throat. "Haaa-- Haaa-- haaaa-- haaaaaa--" Hailey sucked in satisfying breaths. She realized she was the one who was screaming. Hailey lifted blood stained fingers in front of her face. She squeezed crimson soaked digits into fists. Hailey forced frigid puffs into her lungs. She felt tears leaking down her cheeks. Hailey looked in front of her. She studied the crotch of Larry's light wash jeans. It was soaked with blood. Hailey sucked in panicked breaths. Frightened shrieks emerged on peaks of exhaled air. "AH! AAAH! AAAAHH! AAAAAAHH!!". Hailey squeezed her throat shut. She muffled vocal vibrations with muscles in her windpipe. Hailey continued shoveling air into her trachea. She sounded like a panicked puppy.

Hailey looked above Larry's slick scalp. Her mother's terrified face hovered above tufts of jet black hair surrounding Larry's skull. Hailey stared at eyes peeled like produce. She studied contorted cheeks and wadded lips.

"ehhh--" Hailey squealed. "EAAAHH!!" Hailey began bawling. She squeezed out disgusted vocalizations on peaks of short breaths. "ehh-- ehh-- ehhh--" Hailey inhaled nails. "AAHHHHH!!" Hailey buried her face in blood soaked fingers. She shrieked into claret stained palms. Hailey began inhaling long gasps between her knuckles. She shaped her cries into long groans. Blood soaked tears gushed between Hailey's fingers. Hailey spread ends of shaking digits. Emerald irises focused on Hailey's mother's dismembered arm. It lay in a pool of blood on the tan carpet. Helen's fingers were curled at the ends. Hailey's long groans transformed into terrified shrieks. Hailey's stomach churned. Her bowels felt like they were compressing engine pistons.

Hailey dragged her face the other direction. Terrified emeralds gazed above Hailey's shoulder. A sudden breeze cooled Hailey's sopping wet cheeks. It wafted through a piece of screen hanging from the storm door. The front entrance was wide open. Hailey stopped shrieking. Her fingers fell off of her cheeks. Her backside hopped off of her heels. Frantic toes carried Hailey across crispy carpet. Hailey collapsed on top of the front door. Her momentum shoved a warped rectangle into a decrepit frame. Hailey flattened on a faded surface covering the entrance. She sucked terrified breaths through her teeth. She looked towards the living room. Hacked up bodies were piled next to the coffee table.

Hailey's intestines shuffled like playing cards. They felt like they were dancing inside of Hailey's belly. Hailey sucked up panicked breaths. She dashed down the hallway. She smacked a light switch inside the bathroom door. She collapsed in front of the toilet. Hailey's bowels felt like they were forcing their way up her throat. Hailey's chin sank into her neck. Rubbery lips forced themselves apart.

"rrrUUUaaaaa--" Hailey gagged. "uuuOOOOaaaaaaaa--" Hailey felt chyme churning up her intestines. But, nothing came out. Hailey's guts felt like they were herniating. Steaming hot sludge poured into Hailey's stomach. "eeeAAAAAgggggg--" Hailey heaved. Bitter, chocolate brown liquid poured out of Hailey's lips. Regurgitated slime sank into a bowl filled with toilet water. Hailey forced panicked air into her lungs. Her bowel pressurized her duodenum. Hailey's intestines squeezed a half gallon of chyme into her stomach. "uuuEEEEEaaaaaaaaaa--" Hailey gagged. Half digested goop erupted from Hailey's nauseated lips. Acidic chunks collided with the backs of Hailey's sinus cavities. Intestinal soup leaked out of Hailey's nostrils. Bitter bowel juice coated the surfaces of Hailey's olfactory bulbs. Hailey's vomit reeked.

Hailey flattened her palms on white floor tiles. She sat on her heels. She stared at the ceiling. She squeaked like a clown horn. Drops of brown slime dangled from Hailey's nostrils and lips. Hailey inhaled vomit flavored oxygen. It tasted like orange peel. Hailey wadded toilet paper in trembling fists. She ripped pleated tissue suspended from a plastic stick. Hailey wadded fluffy butt fabric on top of her lips. She squeezed barf scented gas through her nostrils. Bile rich slime and undigested chunks launched out of Hailey's sinus cavities. Hailey exhaled a thankful sigh. She inhaled fresh air through her lips. She breathed out a long groan.

Hailey slopped vomit off of her lips. Her head tilted back. Her skull sank between her shoulder blades. Hailey closed her eyes. She shoved tingling fingers underneath the lenses of her glasses. She crushed skin flaps covering her eyes. Hailey felt flush. She tore off her jacket. She tossed it into a wicker hamper beside the toilet. Hailey's head turned. She stared through an open doorway. Tears poured down Hailey's cheeks. Hailey grabbed her biceps. She shuffled skinny fingers along scraped up skin covering the upper halves of her arms. Hailey pictured her mother's twisted face. She squeezed irritated teeth together. Hailey tore her glasses off of her cheeks. She buried her eyes in her palms. A gold plated earpiece dangled from the fingers of Hailey's right hand. Hailey sobbed through quivering lips. She inhaled fresh air. She exhaled a frosty breath between puffed up cheeks.

Hailey smelled copper. She lifted her fingers off of her face. Hailey's jiggling digits were caked with Larry's blood. So were Hailey's glasses. Hailey stumbled to her feet. She looked at herself in the mirror. Bloody fingerprints were smeared all over Hailey's face. Hailey's cheeks, forehead, and chin were decorated with thin lacerations. Hailey rested her glasses on the countertop. She yanked back faucet handles. She plunged crimson stained digits into heated sink liquid. Hailey rinsed her hands. She leaned over a porcelain wash basin. She patted her face with warm liquid. She flicked water off of her fingers. She snagged a squirt of peach body wash from the shower. Hailey scrubbed her fingers above gushing sink water. She scoured her face with peach scented suds. She rinsed her hands and face. She patted them with her morning bath towel. Then, she walked back to the sink. Hailey rinsed blood droplets off of her glasses. She returned her spectacles to her face.

Hailey studied her reflection. She stroked purple and red rings surrounding her throat. She gazed at matching welts surrounding her wrists. Hailey looked down. She lifted the base of her blood soaked blouse. She looked into the mirror. She studied bat shaped welts decorating her pale stomach. Hailey inhaled through her nose. She exhaled through her lips. She felt like soaking in a bubble bath. But first, she had a mess to clean up.

Hailey wanted to kill Travis and his friends. She wanted to make them suffer. She wanted to squeeze the life out of them and listen to them shriek for mercy. Hailey didn't want to reveal she was alive. She didn't want to arrange a funeral for Larry and her mother and work out specifics for days on end. She wanted to taste blood. And, she didn't feel like fucking around. She needed to get rid of Larry and her mother's bodies. She didn't want to dispose of them improperly. She didn't feel like she had any reason to do that. What she did to Larry was justified. But, she needed to keep her secret. If she planned a wake and Travis and his buddies found out, then she could no longer surprise them by being-- alive. Hailey wanted to fuck them up while they were at school. She wanted to do it the same day she was supposed to be suspended. It was a perfect opportunity. Hailey didn't want to miss it.

So, Hailey decided to conceal Larry and her mom's corpses. She knew of a really easy way to do that, too. Lightning flashed through the living room windows. Thunder shook the house. Hailey stood beside the front door. She stared at bloody carcasses piled in her living room. She looked next to Larry and bits of her mother. She studied the rest of the room. It was in shambles. The main couch stood along the opposite wall. A loveseat was arranged perpendicular to the worn out sofa. Both seats were covered with black fabric. They needed to be replaced. Cigarette burns decorated surfaces of worn out benches. Hailey looked at a beat up, wooden coffee table. Hailey's mom purchased it at a garage sale four years earlier. It replaced the glass table Larry destroyed. Twelve pizza boxes were stacked beside the coffee table. It wasn't even an organized stack. Each box was turned a different direction. Some boxes were open. Some were closed. Some boxes were missing lids.

Beer bottles were scattered along the opposite end of the coffee table. Some were empty. Some were half full. Some were turned over. A bottle of whiskey and a bottle of vodka rested on the surface of the coffee table. Both were half gone. Two glass ashtrays rested beside glass spirit flasks. Crystal cancer bowls were filled with cigarette butts. Coffin nail roaches poked out of a mountain of ash scattered across the table. The ember landscape was constructed by breaths of careless drunks laughing and sneezing too close to overflowing ashtrays. More pizza boxes were scattered between the table and the sofa. Old slices of pizza were scattered on top of crunchy carpet. They were growing mold. Additional beer bottles littered carpet next to Italian pie fungus. Empty bottles laid on dried carpet puddles.

Hailey strode into the kitchen. She hoped to find some trash liners. She was going to need plenty of them. She saundered to the pantry on soles of bare feet. A long, skinny storage door stood beside the sink. Hailey opened it. Rotting garbage fumes came roaring out. It was like a kick in the chest. The kitchen trashcan was overflowing. Old garbage was piled along the floor of the pantry. There was so much garbage, it came tumbling out when Hailey opened the door. It was good news, though. It meant there would be plenty of trash liners.

Hailey pinched burning nostrils. She waved the fingers of her free hand in front of her face. She glanced into the pantry. She spotted a brand new box of trash liners. The kitchen trashcan was a thirty-two gallon container. So, the fresh liners were thirty-two gallon trash sacks. Hailey took a breath. She stood on her tip-toes. She snatched a package of garbage bags from the top shelf. She tucked a fresh box of liners under her arm. She lifted scattered garbage with her index finger and thumb. She tossed pieces of decaying food onto a pile of waste surrounding the trashcan. Hailey slammed the pantry door.

Hailey returned to the living room. She laid eight trash liners on the floor. She arranged them two by four. They were black plastic bags with yellow pull ties. Hailey set the rest of the liners beside the ones she arranged. She looked at Larry and her mother's bodies. Hailey's tiny fingers lifted Larry's fat wrist. Larry's skin was still warm. Hailey flattened soles of undressed feet on cold carpet. She squatted like she was pulling a turnip. Hailey dragged Larry's man tits off of her mother's torso. She rolled Larry's hefty carcass out of the way. Hailey figured Larry's body weighed at least 250 pounds. Larry's blood soaked cadaver slopped down next to pieces of Hailey's mom.

Hailey stared at her mother's terrified, blood spattered face. Her mom's torso was naked. Shoulder and hip stumps dripped uncirculating hemoglobin onto tan carpet. Hailey tip-toed around blood soaked floor strands. She knelt down beside her mom's scalp. Hailey studied her mother's terrified irises. She sank tips of shaking fingers into Helen's eyelids. She dragged skin flaps like soggy potato chips over her mom's lifeless corneas. Hailey lowered her head. Hailey's forehead rested on her mother's. Hailey closed her eyes. Hailey's unpowdered eyelids shriveled like raisins. Hailey's face wiggled. Tears leaked out of Hailey's eyelashes. Salinated droplets plopped onto the surfaces of Hailey's glasses lenses.

Hailey rolled her mom's torso across flattened trash liners. She rested her mother's upper body near the last two garbage sacks. She wandered across the living room. She retrieved the axe. It was laying next to Larry's corpse. Hailey towered above her mom's torso. She stared at Helen's oxygen deprived face. The end of a slick axe handle extended from the fingers of Hailey's right hand. Hailey patted the palm of her opposite hand with the blade of a tree chopper. She decided to think like a scientist. That's what Hailey was. Hailey always understood the world using scientific rigor. In that moment, Hailey needed to work like a mortician. Hailey's mom was dead. And, Hailey was upset about that. But, nothing was ever going to change that. And, Hailey's mom was a hunk of meat. Helen's body was-- in the way. It needed to be disposed of.

So, Hailey became an undertaker. She studied unprocessed body parts. She inhaled through her nose. It sounded like a sniffle. Hailey exhaled through quivering lips. She lifted the axe blade above flames pouring out of her scalp. She sank sharpened steel into her mother's neck. Helen's head toppled off the end of her throat. It bounced near the far edge of a trash liner. Hailey studied warped, blood stained cheeks through bases of rectangular lenses. Ice cold emeralds focused on wrinkles of inconvenient flesh.

Hailey inhaled long breaths through her nose. Cool, humid air soothed bile coated nasal cavities. Hailey rested the axe beside the front door. She gathered her mother's missing body parts. She lined them up above her mother's headless neck. Hailey needed to move Larry's massive corpse. She wasn't looking forward to it. Hailey stood beside Larry's shoulders. She sank her tiny digits into Larry's undressed bicep. She dropped to her knees. She collapsed against Larry's ribs. She tilted Larry's upper body ninety degrees. Larry's body toppled face down. Hailey squeezed outmatched digits below Larry's upper arm. She lifted the edge of Larry's torso. She shoved it towards trash sacks covering the carpet.

Hailey wrangled Larry's enormous carcass next to her mother's body parts. Hailey's exhausted fingers plopped down between Larry's lifeless man titties. Hailey rested on her knees. Tiny, denim covered cheeks collapsed on Hailey's heels. Hailey exhaled heavy breaths. She shoved herself away from Larry's body. She sat on the floor. She flattened her back against the front door. She inhaled puffs of air through her lips. Hailey caught her breath. She hopped to her feet. She approached Larry's body. She stared at Larry's ugly, Jack-o-lantern face. Larry's piercing irises made Hailey's skin crawl. Hailey studied Larry's Hitler patch. She shook her head. She pried Larry's digusting boots off of his fat feet. She unfastened Larry's blood soaked jeans.

Hailey pried Larry's britches off of his limp thighs and calves. Hailey laid Larry's denim pants on top of a blood puddle soaked into the carpet. She knelt down beside the ends of Larry's pant legs. She pounded frayed denim into a pool of crimson. She punched Larry's jeans into other puddles. She used Larry's britches to soak up as much blood as she could. She tossed Larry's jeans on top of his boots.

Hailey dragged Larry's t-shirt off of his floppy torso. She soaked up more blood with Larry's hard rock top. She deposited it next to Larry's jeans. Hailey looked at the living room carpet. Claret puddles stained worn out fibers. Hailey checked the loveseat. A brown jacket hung from the short bench's backrest. It was Larry's. Hailey snagged Larry's corduroy coat. She hammered it into drying bloodstains. She tossed Larry's jacket on top of other blood soaked garments. Hailey studied the carpet. Crimson stains stood out like targets. Hailey needed to use a steam cleaner. And, she wasn't sure that would be enough.

Hailey walked beside flattened trash liners. She retrieved the axe. She stood beside Larry's feet. She stared at white socks covering Larry's fat footsies. Hailey raised a wood chopper above strands of head flames. She buried an axe blade in Larry's left shoulder. A determined shriek escaped Hailey's gritted teeth. The sharpened plate barely penetrated Larry's fat, hairy flesh. Hailey lifted the axe over her head. She swung it harder. The axe cracked Larry's shoulder joint. But, it still didn't make it to the floor. Hailey's arms collapsed on top of her ribs. Hailey stared at a puny slither. She inhaled through her nostrils. She exhaled through her lips. Hailey slung a blood soaked axe blade above her head. She drove sharpened steel into Larry's arm socket. Larry's left arm jarred loose. It rolled across plastic sacks. Larry's severed limb rested beside his blood stained clothes.

Hailey's head tilted back. Her eyes closed. Hailey exhaled a satisfied breath. She rested a crimson drenched axe head on a trash bag blanket. She reached above her head. She stretched aching biceps. She heard tendons in her spine cracking. Hailey grabbed a slick axe handle. She hacked off Larry's other limbs. She lined up the axe blade with Larry's thick neck. She chopped off Larry's head. Larry's disgusting face dropped off of his fat throat. It rolled beside his left shoulder. Hailey tossed the axe. A blood stained wood hacker plopped on top of Larry's fat stomach. Larry's belly flopped like a trampoline. Hailey dropped to her knees. She studied Larry's tighty-whiteys. Elastic leg bands were stretched around crimson coated stumps. Hailey inhaled long, cool breaths.

Hailey snagged the box of trash liners. She wrapped each limb in a separate trash bag. She bagged Larry and her mom's decapitated craniums. Helen's torso wasn't too bad. Larry's was so heavy, Hailey had to roll it into a plastic sack. Hailey double-bagged it. She gathered the liners she laid on the floor. She tossed them into the bags containing Larry's upper body. She tied plastic loops surrounding the top.

Hailey looked around. She hauled her backpack to her bedroom. It was still soaked. Hailey glanced at the clock above her bed. It was 9:47. Hailey returned to the front door. She slipped sopping wet shoes over her feet. She opened the door a crack. It was still pouring down rain. Hailey was happy to see that. Massive sheets of rain would give Hailey cover from prying eyes. Hailey jogged through buckets of precipitation. She climbed into her mother's S.U.V. As usual, it was unlocked. Helen's keys hung from the ignition. Hailey pressed a square button below the radio. The rear window opened. Hailey hurried to the rear end of her mom's S.U.V. She lowered the tailgate.

Hailey herded limbs to the car. She searched her neighborhood for witnesses. Hailey hobbled her mother's torso to the truck. On her way back, Hailey noticed the rain was letting up. Hailey looked around. She spotted lighted house windows through slowing precipitation. Hailey zipped through the front door. She squeezed aching fingers around wads of black plastic. She slung rims of trash sacks over her shoulder. She dragged Larry's upper body to the back of her mom's S.U.V. Hailey knelt down. She lifted Larry's torso off of soaking wet cement. Hailey's knees buckled. Her arms and legs wobbled like stacks of canned cheese. Hailey rolled Larry's hacked up trunk onto black carpet covering the floor of the S.U.V.

Hailey exhaled a thankful breath. She slammed the tailgate. She shut the rear glass. Hailey hurried to the bathroom. She retrieved her hoodie from the clothes hamper. She threw it on top of her blood soaked blouse. Then, Hailey locked up the house. She fired up her mom's vehicle. Hailey had only driven a few times. But, that was all the practice she needed. Hailey got the hang of driving the first time she tried it. Hailey didn't have a driver's license. It was a risk she was willing to take.




Chapter 11: "A Disappearance"
Table of Contents

Cherry Cemetery was south of Hailey's house. It was always open. Two twenty foot gates surrounded the cemetery entrance. The graveyard doors were drawn beside posts. A banner spanned tops of poles surrounding the entrance. Cherry Cemetery's seal was arc shaped. "Cherry Cemetery" was woven from square shaped bars. The memorial park's letters were formed like calligraphy. The perimeter of the graveyard was bound by matching square tubing. A fence made of flat bars extended from the mourning palace's entrance posts. It joined along the back end of the graveyard. The fence's bars were spaced one foot apart. Naked limbs poked out of scraggly tree trunks. Empty branches reached for ominous rain clouds. Cherry Cemetery was packed with colorful headstones. A slight drizzle spattered chiseled grave markers.

Hailey leaned forward. She peered above the rims of her glasses lenses. Cherry Cemetery's banner passed above the roof of the S.U.V. Hailey drove along a narrow road. The graveyard's twisting path traveled between sections filled with gravestones. Hailey scanned tombstones. Lightning bolts manifested in black clouds. They twisted along a violent canopy. Tunnels of free electrons disappeared into companion clouds. Points of illuminated ion channels crackled when they appeared. Thunder traveled along crooked, winding paths. Hailey searched Cherry Cemetery. After ten minutes, Hailey spotted an empty grave. It was constructed near the end of an intersecting road. Hailey turned left. Her mother's S.U.V. slithered down a winding path. Hailey parked beside a freshly dug gravesite.

The S.U.V.'s tailgate was even with the end of the open grave. Hailey shifted into reverse. She cut the S.U.V.'s steering wheel left. She backed up to the beginning of a square hole. Hailey killed the ignition. She dropped her mom's keys into her pocket. She pressed a grey button to release the rear glass. Hailey hopped out. She stared at a rhombus shaped hole forged into wet graveyard dirt. Tiny rain droplets spotted Hailey's flame tinted locks. Hailey dragged a striped hood over her head. A shovel was poking out of dirt beside the edge of the unfinished grave. Hailey had everything she needed. She strolled to the rear end of the S.U.V. She dropped the tailgate.

Hailey hopped into the back of her mom's truck. She tossed limbs and severed heads into the rectangular hole. She rolled her mother's torso to the end of the tailgate. Hailey's mom's upper body toppled into the open grave. It rolled towards the middle. Hailey wrestled Larry's torso to the end of the tailgate. She shoved it over the edge of the lowered, back end cover. Larry's torso dropped on top of dismembered body parts. It rolled next to Helen's hacked up chest. Hailey hopped out of the S.U.V. She shut the tailgate and the window glass. She checked a layer of flat dirt lining the base of the unfinished grave. She grabbed the shovel. Hailey sank the blade of the shovel into a mountain of soil nearby. She shoveled in just enough dirt to conceal Larry and her mother's body parts.

Hailey stabbed a mud coated spade into the ground. The shovel's handle poked out where Hailey found it. Hailey double-checked the gravesite floor. It looked nice and flat. Larry and Hailey's mom were invisible. Friday morning, a casket would be lowered on top of Larry and Helen's dismembered bodies. And, they would vanish. Hailey drove the way she came. She glanced at a clock built into the S.U.V.'s radio. It was a quarter past eleven.

Hailey reached the graveyard entrance. She turned left onto Cherry Lane. She passed her house and turned left. She merged onto the Patrick Peterson freeway. A couple of blocks away, the freeway curved. Queenie Avenue extended from a bend forged into the Patrick Peterson. It was a one way road sticking out of the the right hand lane. Hailey merged onto Queenie. She drove a couple of blocks. The one way street became the east edge of Glory High School. Hailey turned onto Happy Street. She turned left onto Dora Lane. She drove onto the school's main parking lot. She coasted to the front row. She parked in a faculty parking spot facing the front entrance.

Glory High employed ten campus cops during the day. But, no one watched the place at night. Domes made of black glass covered cameras all over the campus. That's why security responded when Hailey and Jennifer were fighting in the hallway. The cameras were turned off at the end of the day in order to conserve power. It was district policy. Hailey wanted to make sure that they stayed off. Hailey saw Glory High's security system. The video outputs for all the campus' cameras were wired into a single line. If Hailey cut that one specialty cable, it would be days before Glory High's cameras were working again. Malley's school district I.T. specialists would show up two days after the security system was vandalized. And, they would order parts to manufacture a new cable. Meanwhile, Glory High School would have no security cameras.

The only other thing Hailey needed to know is where Travis and his friends would be and when. Hailey knew Travis and his buddies from various classes. Travis Griffin and Gary Dodson were in Hailey's Psychology class. Vicky Turner, Paul Snyder, and Tommy Keel were in Hailey and Wednesday's English class. Jennifer Rogers and Tate Hewitt were in Hailey's Algebra II class. And, Joe Eaves was in Hailey's U.S. History class. It was likely Travis' friends didn't know Hailey. But, Hailey knew them. Hailey even knew where Vicky lived. Vicky lived at the house on Dora Lane with twisted up oak trees in the front yard. Hailey needed a list of Travis and his friends' classes.

Hailey killed the engine. She hopped out of her mom's S.U.V. Hailey jogged to a set of double doors covering the front entrance. The rain finally stopped. Hailey hopped over puddles on her way to the building. She yanked rain soaked door handles. The main campus doors were locked. Hailey looked around. She hurried through the grass. She wandered along the right end of the campus. She tried a different set of double doors. They were also locked. Hailey spun on her heels. She peered down a thin walkway leading to the latched entrance. She spotted headlights wandering down Dora Lane. Hailey crouched behind bushes next to the doors. She watched headlights through gaps between bush leaves. Hailey's emerald irises wandered from the right corners of her eyes to the left.

Hailey arose from her hiding place. She flipped tiny fingers through ginger locks. Hailey moseyed to another set of double doors. The right hand covering was unlocked. Hailey cracked the door. She slipped inside the school. Hailey stood near a corner of two adjacent hallways. One extended in front of Hailey's eyes. The other turned right. Hailey walked straight. She turned left. She followed floor tiles to the main campus hallway. The principal's office was close by. The campus' security camera feeds were connected to recording equipment inside the main office. Hailey spotted her mother's S.U.V. through large windows surrounding the main entrance. She checked Dora Lane. The coast was clear.

Hailey studied the office's door. The doorknob didn't even lock. Hailey skidded across floor tiles. She turned an unlatched doorknob clockwise. She slipped into the principal's office. Hailey turned on the lights. She entered a doorway along a left hand wall. Hailey turned on more lights. She studied computer monitors. She followed RCA cables to the ceiling. Each video cable attached to a single feed line. All Hailey had to do was cut one cable. Hailey snagged a pair of scissors from the principal's pencil cup. She returned to the security department. She kicked a rolling chair below the camera feeds. She hopped onto the seat. She snipped a specially crafted bundle in two. Hailey's stomach growled. Hailey plopped tiny fingers on top of an empty belly. She thought about getting pizza. It reminded her of her mom. Hailey turned off the lights and closed the door.

Hailey wiped plastic scissors handles with the end of her jacket sleeve. She returned the principal's scissors. She faced a set of filing cabinets behind the principal's desk. The far, left cabinet had four drawers. They were lettered. Hailey opened the second drawer. She took out Travis Griffin's school schedule. She looked it over. Hailey gathered everyone else's schedules. She ran copies. Then, she returned Travis and his friends' schedules to the cabinet behind the principal's desk. She closed the filing cabinet's drawers. She wiped her prints off of steel handles.

Hailey switched off the office lights. She returned to the main hallway. She scrubbed the office doorknob with the sleeve of her hoodie. She kicked the door. It settled into its frame. Hailey glanced at the parking lot. Her mother's S.U.V. was undisturbed. Hailey hurried through the main hallway. She exited through the door on the right. The double doors covering the entrance were locked from the outside. But, they still opened from the inside. Hailey stacked copies of Travis and his friends' school schedules on the hood of her mom's S.U.V. She hopped in and fired up the engine. Hailey glanced at the clock. It was 11:07.




Chapter 12: "Cleaning House"
Table of Contents

Hailey entered her home. She turned on the lights. She kicked off her canvas shoes and shut the door. She looked around. She inhaled a disgusting stench. Hailey shook her head. Her stomach growled. Hailey patted her hollow belly. She padded across tan carpet covering the living room floor. She stood beside the kitchen counter. She turned on the lights. She opened a drawer.

Hailey laid a phone book on the counter. She looked up Jack Colby's. The restaurant was Hailey's mom's favorite pizza parlor. Hailey grabbed a cordless phone that was tacked to the wall. She dialed the number for Jack Colby's. She returned the phone book to its drawer. Hailey flattened a plastic speaker cover against her ear. She walked across the living room. She wandered down the hall. She entered her mother's bedroom. A man's voice compressed Hailey's eardrum.

"Thank you for calling Jack Colby's," the voice remarked. Hailey turned on her mom's bedroom lights. She looked around. "Can I get your phone number, please?" Hailey bowed her head. She pinched the bridge of her nose. Her mom's room looked horrible. Hailey recited her phone number. She walked beside her mother's bed. Helen's mattress frame extended from the right hand wall. Hailey cradled a plastic phone receiver between her ear and her shoulder. She yanked off her mother's bedspread, sheets, and pillows. "Oh, Ms. Holloway!" the voice responded. "The usual?" Hailey blew a breath through smiling lips. She dropped her mother's bedding on the floor.

"Actually-- this is Hailey," she responded. Hailey stretched a red cover across her mom's top mattress. She picked up a matching sheet. She flung it through the air. She dropped it on top of the mattress.

"Oh--" the voice groaned. "Helen's daughter, right?" Hailey froze. She felt like crying. She inhaled frosty air through her nostrils. She exhaled a heavy breath. Hailey dropped her mother's pillows near the top of the mattress. They were wrapped in red pillowcases with white polka dots.

"You-- know her that well, huh?" Hailey inquired. She retrieved her mother's bedspread from the floor. It matched Helen's pillowcases. Hailey flapped her mom's polka dot blanket in front of her. She flattened it on top of her mother's mattress.

"She calls almost every night," the man on the phone explained. "I know her pretty well." Hailey stepped over a pile of dirty clothes. She grabbed a small box. It was sitting on a bedside table. Helen's nightstand was made out of finished oak just like her bed. Both pieces of furniture were decrepit from lack of care. "Well-- what can I do for you, Hailey?" the voice asked. Hailey sat near the beginning of her mother's bed. She laid the box in her lap. It was made of wood. A lid with a round knob covered the top. Hailey picked up a slick, pine covering. Her eyes squeezed themselves shut. Hailey reached below the lenses of her glasses. She sank the ends of her fingers into wadded eye flaps covering her emerald irises. Hailey shook with silent sobs. "Hailey?" the man's voice requisitioned. Hailey squeezed the fingers of her free hand over her lips. She pried tear soaked eyelids apart. She cleared her throat. She uncovered her mouth.

"Um--" Hailey squeezed out. "I want a-- large pizza. Thick crust." Hailey sniffled. She lifted a stack of cash out of her mom's tiny box. She laid it on the bed. She inhaled a painful breath through quivering lips. "Um-- like-- all meat?" Hailey explained. She exhaled a somber chuckle. "You know??"

"Every kind we got?" the voice asked.

Hailey nodded. "Yeah--" she grumbled. "That's what I'm trying to say." She re-covered her mom's box. She returned the box to the table beside the bed.

"Delivery?" the voice asked. Hailey sorted cash by value. She turned each bill the same direction. Hailey's mom had $737 socked away in her box. Hailey stared at stacks of Benjamins. She shook her head.

"Yeah--" Hailey groaned. She piled her mom's cash into a single stack. Her eyes squeezed themselves shut. Her shoulders hugged her neck. Hailey's distraught face trembled on the end of her spine.

"That comes to fourteen ninety-seven," the voice reported. "It'll be about-- twenty-five minutes. Okay, Hailey?" Hailey forced sopping wet eyelids apart. She shoved wiggling lips towards a plastic microphone cover.

"Th-Thank you--" Hailey squeezed out. She poked a plastic button poking out of the surface of the telephone receiver. The phone beeped. Hailey exhaled heavy breaths through sobbing lips. She felt like slicing her wrists. Hailey returned the telephone receiver to a plastic cradle mounted in the kitchen. She opened a closet beside the living room television. Sopping wet emeralds stared into a tiny storage space. Hailey took out a steam cleaner. She looked around. She grabbed a plastic bottle filled with cleaning solution. Hailey also grabbed a vacuum cleaner. She balanced a plastic bottle in front of tear coated eyes. She read cleaning instructions. Hailey bent over. She detached a plastic container from the steam cleaner. She measured carpet steaming solution. She returned the bottle of cleaning liquid to the closet.

Hailey carried the steam cleaner container to the kitchen. She filled it with hot water from the sink. She returned to the living room. She fastened the container to the body of the steam cleaner. She plugged the appliance into a receptacle. She flipped a plastic switch. Hailey steered sud coated brushes across the living room carpet. The body of the steam cleaner and the vacuum looked brand new. The cleaning appliances stood out like sore thumbs compared with decrepit crap spread throughout the living room. Hailey scrubbed the largest blood puddle on the carpet. It gradually disappeared into a heap of thick suds. Hailey cleansed a different puddle. The blood in the living room was somewhat fresh. So, it didn't give Hailey a whole lot of trouble.

Hailey scrubbed every single blood puddle. She killed the steam cleaner. She looked at the worn out coffee table. Hailey grabbed the box of trashcan liners. She filled two trash bags with pizza boxes alone. She tied them shut and tossed them next to the front door. She scooted beer bottles, liquor containers, and mounds from overflowing ashtrays into a third bag. She gathered cigarette butts, beer bottles, and moldy pizza slices from the carpet. She tossed them into the same bag. She tied it shut. Hailey tucked the box of trash liners under her arm. She dragged three filled trash sacks into the kitchen. Hailey studied stacks of dirty dishes poking out of the kitchen sink. She decided to deal with those after she ate.

Hailey opened two more garbage liners. She stared at the pantry door. She inhaled through her nose. She exhaled through exhausted lips. Hailey opened the door. She knelt down in front of rotting garbage. The aroma was unbearable. Hailey tossed handfuls of overflowing refuse into a pair of plastic liners. She tried not to think about disgusting slop her fingers snatched off of the floor. She ignored an empty sardine can with maggots crawling all over it. She kept her eyes off of an old apple core squishing between her fingers. She held her breath so she did not have to smell rotting salmon that was three weeks old. A couple of times, Hailey lifted her face above an open trash bag. Her stomach threatened to release contents it did not have. Thankfully, nothing came out.

Hailey plucked the pantry floor clean. She tied two full bags. She also retrieved the liner from the trashcan. She wandered to the sink. She squirted a few drops of dish soap onto her mitts. It was the only dish soap in the kitchen. Hailey rinsed sud soaked fingers with scalding water. She looked around. There were no paper towels. There was no dish towel, either. Hailey shook warm droplets off of her fingers. She walked to the front door. She slipped on her shoes. She began herding trash bags to the alley. She hauled them two at a time. When Hailey returned from her final trip, the kitchen and the living room reeked of garbage.

Hailey kicked off her shoes. She shut the back door. She snagged a can of air freshener from the pantry. She filled the kitchen closet with lemon scented mist. She spritzed aerosolized fog into the empty trashcan. She dropped in a fresh trash liner. She returned the box of trash liners to the pantry. She closed the door. Hailey wandered through the house. She spritzed lemon odorized fragrance into the air. She sprayed air freshener into her mother's bedroom. Hailey returned to the living room. She tossed the aerosol can on the loveseat. She scooted the coffee table out of her way. She turned the steam cleaner on. She squeegeed remaining carpet stains. Hailey ran the vacuum cleaner. She rolled a mechanized suction device across the living room carpet. She returned the appliances to the closet. She dragged the coffee table between the sofa and the loveseat. Hailey stared at an ugly, beer stained tabletop. She rested exhausted fingers on her hips. She shook her head. A set of scrawny fingers knocked on the front door.

Hailey looked up. She searched the living room. She didn't notice any bloodstains. Hailey's eyes felt like they were stuck full of pins. Hailey poked her fingers behind rectangular lenses surrounding the bridge of her nose. Hailey's eyelids were sopping wet. Hailey sank tips of tiny digits into skin flaps protecting her eyes. She swatted tears away from her eye sockets. Hailey opened the front door. A young man balanced an insulated bag across his arms. It was the size of an artist portfolio. A Jack Colby's uniform dangled from the young man's limbs. White overalls hung from shoulders of a yellow t-shirt. The young man's top was decorated with images of holes. The young man's shirt looked like it was made out of Swiss cheese. Chin length hair the color of licorice hung from a yellow ballcap. A Jack Colby's logo was printed on the surface of the young man's hat. The delivery guy's hair surrounded a pale, acne covered face.

"Large, thick-crust?" the young man inquired. "Every kinda meat we have?" The young man's voice was very dull. It made Hailey feel like taking a nap. The delivery guy peeled hook and loop fasteners. He removed a twenty-four inch square box from the bag. He laid it on top of swiss cheese decorated vinyl. Hailey slipped her mom's cash stack out of the pocket of her jeans. She counted seventeen bucks. The young man balanced Hailey's pizza on the fingers of his left hand. He rummaged through his pockets. "That's--" the young man stated. He patted his white overalls. "It's gonna be--"

"Fourteen ninety-seven?" Hailey inquired.

"That's it," the young man remarked. He handed Hailey her Italian pie. He glanced inside the doorway. He looked around. "Where's Helen?" he asked. Hailey froze. She stared at a twenty-four inch box balancing on the tips of her tiny fingers. She felt like crying. Her eyes were so dry and irritated, she wasn't sure that she could.

"She's-- gone," Hailey groaned. She squinted. She looked up.

"Mann--" the delivery guy remarked. "You're cleaning the place?"

Hailey blew an exhausted breath through smiling lips. "Jeez-- My mom calls you guys wayyy too much."

The delivery guy chuckled. "Yeah-- I come by this house a lot." Hailey forced a smile. She swallowed.

"I figured I'd-- clean the place a little bit." Hailey licked her lips. "Since she's gone." The young man nodded. Hailey handed him seventeen dollars. "Keep it," Hailey instructed.

The delivery guy showed Hailey the bills she handed him. "Hey, thanks," he responded, in a monotone timbre. "Have a nice night." The young man walked away. Hailey situated a worn out door inside a warped frame. Hailey dragged toes of exhausted footsies into the dining room. The dining table was covered with bullshit. Hailey stared at empty beer bottles and piles of trash. She turned around. She tossed her pizza box on the coffee table. She plopped down on the loveseat. Hailey stared at a cardboard cover the size of a car window. Heat radiated from a plain, white paper surface. Liquid parmesan and mozzarella vapors wafted from edges of a twenty-four inch box. Essence from cured meat coated with pepper erupted from a cardboard gap. Nutmeg spiced sausage and olive oil soaked pork created rich fumes. Yeast risen dough brushed with sweet tomato sauce forged a savory aroma. Hailey was hungry and tired. She struggled to instruct her fingers to feed her.

Hailey squeezed tiny fingertips decorated with carnation acrylic between cardboard strips. She flipped a twenty-four inch cover onto the other end of the table. Edges of golden crust an inch thick surrounded triangular platters. Runny mozzarella shards were woven with parmesan chunks. Pepperoni crisps, Italian sausage nuggets, hamburger knots, Canadian bacon strips, and chunks of ham sank into liquid cheese coated with orange droplets. A half inch ring of tomato sauce erupted from spaces between melted curd whirlpools and tubes of fermented gluten crystals.

Hailey forced the thumb and last two fingers of her right hand under yeast flavored sponge surrounded by pita hose. Hailey's leading digits sank into a gluten pipe like a soft pretzel. Hailey stretched mozzarella threads away from a scalene frame. Tomato sauce droplets leaked from gaps between a yeast risen deck and melted curds. Hailey's thumb, pinky, and ring finger folded a wheat bread tunnel into the shape of a capital "U". The tips of Hailey's left hand digits supported the end of a yeast risen pizza slice.

Hailey lowered a mozzarella coated arrowhead into a space between her lips. Hailey's teeth sank into a parmesan entangled puddle. Bicuspids, incisors, and canines stretched a chewy tip away from a dough platter. Liquid curd filaments pulled tight and snapped. Eager jaws crushed crispy toppings between points of famished molars. Pork particles and bovine shreds sank into saliva coated flesh between Hailey's teeth. Melted cheese with a texture like chewing gum pooled on the surface of Hailey's tongue. Calcium chompers mashed fermented dough. Hailey flattened spicy, oil soaked fragments between her teeth. She smiled.

Paul sat along the end of his bed. He stuffed a long, wooden pipe full of pot. Punk rock erupted from speakers of a CD player. Paul's music device rested on a small, wooden table beside the beginning of his bed. The bedroom light was off. A bulb dangled from a fitting attached to three wires. AC leads hung from a worn out ceiling fan. Topsy-turvy blades whirred slowly. Paul's room was illuminated by fluorescent tubes. Black light fixtures were tacked to Paul's bedroom walls. Additional wall space was plastered with punk rock posters. Most of Paul's music banners reacted to ultraviolet radiation. Paul tacked hundreds of drawings of random people to his bedroom walls. Some were colored. Some were sketched with pencil. Paul used varying paper sizes and shapes to craft his artwork. Paul's bed was unkempt. Pillows, sheets, and blankets were crumpled in a heap beside the end of Paul's bed.

Paul's bedroom door opened a crack. Paul looked up. Vicky's head poked between the end of a door and the beginning of a wall. Paul smiled.

"Hey, Vickyy--" Paul croaked. "Wanna help me put this bud away?" Vicky slipped into Paul's bedroom. She shut the door. Paul finished loading his pipe. Vicky stood next to Paul's bed. She moved a road cone coated with random shades of candle wax. She sat next to Paul. Paul handed Vicky the wooden pipe. Vicky plopped a wooden reed between her lips. Paul struck a plastic lighter. He sank a golden flame into a bowl of pot. Vicky looked at blue lenses covering Paul's eyes. She carried Paul's pipe away from her lips. She snatched Paul's lighter out of his fingers. Vicky rested a wooden shaft and a plastic ignitor beside Paul's CD player. "Uhh--" Paul purred. Vicky reached beside the edges of Paul's cheeks. She dragged Paul's sunglasses away from his eyes. She folded them. She laid Paul's shades beside his pipe. Vicky rested her fingertips below Paul's irregularly shaded irises. Ends of gentle digits sank into Paul's cheeks. Paul's lips parted. Paul inhaled a silent breath. He blinked. Paul stared into Vicky's chocolate eye shutters.

"I love your eyes," Vicky remarked.

"I look like a freak," Paul responded. Brunette brows lifted above Paul's eye sockets. "Wanna trade?"

Vicky exhaled a chuckle. "Your eyes are beautiful--" she purred. Vicky licked her lips. "I guess you could wear colored contacts."

"You know-- I tried that," Paul explained. "They still looked pretty weird." Vicky's fingers wandered down Paul's cheeks. Vicky surrounded Paul's masculine digits with soft knuckle extensions. Vicky flipped Paul's hands. Her fingertips glided across Paul's palms. Vicky gazed into Paul's alien irises. Paul stared, stupidly. He inhaled a breath. "Vicky, what're you doing?" Vicky shook her head. She grinned like an idiot.

"I don't know," Vicky responded. Paul studied chocolate shutters. His face wandered past his bicep. Paul plopped his lips on top of Vicky's. He surrounded the apple of Vicky's cheek with gentle fingers. Paul gripped Vicky's bottom lip with the edges of his mouth. He tightened his lips. Paul cyphoned Vicky's velvet mouth flesh. He pulled puckered chops away from Vicky's face. Paul stared into Vicky's eyes. He inhaled through nervous lips. Paul's hot breath tickled Vicky's nose. Tiny hairs stood up along the back of Vicky's neck.

"Aww, fuckk--" Vicky groaned. Vicky's fingers squeezed shut around the collar of Paul's shirt. Vicky dragged her shoulders towards Paul's chest. She crushed her lips against Paul's. Paul tightened muscles in his neck. He forced his face towards Vicky's. The ends of Paul's masculine fingers stroked Vicky's long, brown hair. Paul tilted his head. Tommy's voice interrupted.

"You two finally hitting the sheets?!" Tommy barked. Paul's lips pulled away from Vicky's. Paul's head turned like a top. Paul looked over his shoulder. Vicky looked above Paul's deltoid. Paul pointed between black lenses covering Tommy's eyes.

"God damn it, Tommy!" Paul belched. Tommy laughed. He retreated. He shut Paul's door behind him. "Heyy!" Paul snarled. "You-- lock the door!" The bedroom door opened a crack. Tommy's scrawny digits poked through. They turned a doorknob latch. Tommy's nimble fingers disappeared into the hallway. Paul's door squeezed shut. Paul faced Vicky. He grinned. He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "He's an idiot," Paul said quietly. Vicky stared into Paul's miscolored eyes. She smiled. Her face floated towards Paul's. The rims of Vicky's mouth surrounded Paul's. Paul and Vicky resumed making out. There was a knock at the door. Paul extracted eager, oral rims from Vicky's lips. He shook angry digits in front of his shoulders. "For fuck's sake!" Paul shouted. Vicky chuckled. She grabbed Paul's wooden pipe. She took a toke.

Paul ripped open his bedroom door. Joe stood in the hallway. Friendly digits extended from the sleeve of Joe's red leather jacket. Joe plopped his fingers on Paul's shoulder.

"Paul, mayun--" Joe whispered. "Are you two gettin' it on in here??" Joe peeked over Paul's shoulders. Paul snatched his buddy's fingers off of red plaid covering his deltoid. He pointed at black strands poking out of the middle of Joe's scalp.

"Joey!" Paul rasped. "I swear--" Joe grabbed Paul's furious digits. He flipped Paul's palm so it faced the ceiling. Joe plopped a square shaped wrapper onto the surface of Paul's palm. Paul looked down. Different shaded irises studied a square made of paper coated foil. Points of cardboard perforations extended from sealed sides. Edges of a one and a half inch disc poked through a teal wrapper. Joe patted Paul's bicep.

"Don't say I never gave you nothin'," Joe whispered. He turned around. He disappeared down the hallway. Paul's lips wandered to the edge of his face. He stepped into his bedroom. He locked the door. He stared at a rectangle of wood covering the entrance to his room.

"Well?" Vicky inquired. Paul stared into space. He looked over his shoulder. Vicky smiled. She shrugged. "What was it this time?" Vicky asked. Paul faced forward. He studied a square packet constructed from foil. Paul lifted shy digits above his shoulder. A square shaped wrapper dangled from his fingertips. Paul jiggled it. Vicky stared at a teal package hanging from Paul's fingers. She smiled. She slid a black vest off of her shoulders.

"You know--" Vicky remarked. "That Joe's a real good friend." Vicky lifted her legs. She swiveled on a butt wrapped in a dark blue skirt. She reached between her tiny tits. She unfastened a pebble sized button securing her silk shirt across her chest. Vicky rested heels of brown maryjanes on the end of Paul's bed. She flattened the toe of her left shoe on brown leather surrounding her right heel. Vicky's right hand shoe dropped next to Paul's bed frame. Vicky crushed toes covered by a white tube sock on the heel of her left shoe. She forced the collar of her other maryjane over the end of her foot. The body of Vicky's second shoe dropped beside the first. Vicky unbuttoned her white blouse. She slid silk curtains beside the peaks of her breasts. She laid down.

Paul studied pale skin showing between the edges of Vicky's dress shirt. Peaks of velvet tits erupted from cups of a white, lace bra. Vicky's trim stomach showed above the waist of a knee length skirt. Vicky's bellybutton peaked above a navy blue skirt rim. Vicky rested feminine digits along the edges of her breasts. Her head turned. Vicky looked at Paul above mammary peaks extending from her chest. Paul stared back above his shoulder. Vicky's dark brown eyebrows lifted above her chocolate irises. Vicky gnashed her teeth together.

"Paull--" Vicky squeezed through gritted incisors. "If you don't come over here and fuck me-- right now? I swear--" Vicky pointed towards the hallway. "I'm gonna go in there and fuck Tommy, instead." Paul exhaled a breath through smiling lips. He shook his head.

"No, you won't," Paul replied. Vicky stared into Paul's mismatched irises. She licked her lips.

"Okay, I won't," Vicky admitted. She pointed between Paul's brown and teal eye shutters. "But, you-- I'm--" Vicky squeezed her lips together. She shook her head. "I'm-- not gonna wait around for you forever, you know!" Paul gazed into Vicky's chocolate irises. He grinned. He wandered across his messy bedroom. He bent over beside the beginning of his bed. Paul lowered his face. His lips intersected Vicky's. Paul slid eager digits inside an opening down the front of Vicky's blouse. Paul's slender fingers glided across Vicky's soft skin. Paul's fingertips climbed white lace pillows. The ends of Paul's digits sank into the beginning of Vicky's left breast. Paul's fingers squeezed shut around Vicky's mesh covered tit. Vicky's head tilted back. Her eyes squeezed themselves shut.

"aaaaa--" Vicky groaned. Paul dragged himself onto the edge of his bed. He tore off his red plaid jacket and his worn out punk t-shirt. Paul tossed his tops next to pillows beside the end of his mattress. Vicky's head lifted off of a pillowy bed surface. Vicky squeezed eager lips against Paul's. She crushed her undressed chest against Paul's bony ribs. Paul strapped his arms behind the small of Vicky's back. Paul's fingers glided down navy blue fabric covering Vicky's butt. The heels of Paul's palms sank into Vicky's midnight wrapped cheeks. Vicky's lips wandered away from Paul's. Vicky's head tilted back. The edges of Paul's mouth floated below Vicky's chin. Paul kissed Vicky's long, slender neck. Vicky was hypnotized by Paul's lips gripping her throat. She laid ends of eager fingers on Paul's naked shoulders. She forced the surface of her neck away from the rims of Paul's mouth. She looked into Paul's clashing irises.

Paul let go of Vicky's waist. Vicky scooted her tiny butt to the beginning of the bed. Vicky ripped her schoolgirl shirt off of her shoulders. She reached behind her back. She unfastened tiny hooks securing her bra below her shoulder blades. Elastic straps slid down Vicky's biceps. White silk covers toppled off of Vicky's tiny tits. The ends of Vicky's pale digits sank into mounds of flesh extending from her chest. Vicky's fingertips glided to bottoms of undressed boobies. The tips of Paul's fingers and the end of his thumb squeezed shut around the base of Vicky's left breast. Paul shoved Vicky's tit up the edges of her ribs. Vicky arched her back. She inhaled a sharp breath. She plopped gratified fingers beside her hips. Paul forced the end of Vicky's nipple between his lips. Paul squeezed the edges of his mouth over Vicky's areola. The rims of Paul's chops glided across thin skin covering Vicky's mammary glands. Vicky's head tilted back. Her skull crushed chocolate strands between her shoulder blades. Her lips opened. Vicky's fingertips squeezed Paul's bed sheet against the surfaces of her palms.

"aaAAAA--" Vicky exhaled. Paul's legs glided onto the mattress. Paul laid back. He unfastened his jeans and dragged them to his ankles. Vicky opened the condom Joe gave to Paul. A tiny, silicone shower cap the color of vanilla pudding glowed like dish soap in black light radiation filling Paul's bedroom. Vicky reached inside phosphorescent boxer shorts strapped around Paul's hips. She pinched a tiny, rubber tip. She unrolled a silicone shaft over Paul's pecker. Paul yanked off his boxer shorts. He dropped them off the end of his bed. Vicky plopped down in front of Paul's undressed knees. She supported herself with her palms. She looked into Paul's discolored irises. "I'm gonna go fuck Tommy," Vicky whispered. Paul's fingers snapped shut around glowing, cotton tubes surrounding Vicky's ankles. Vicky shrieked.

Paul dragged Vicky across his mattress. He slid Vicky's smiling face under his. Paul yanked Vicky's navy blue skirt down her hips. He dragged white lace straps off of Vicky's waist. Paul slid Vicky's panties along necks of long tube socks. He slipped them off of stocking covered insteps. Vicky carried the toes of her left foot in front of Paul's trim stomach. She rested her heel beside Paul's hip. Paul's fingers gripped soft skin surrounding Vicky's thighs. Paul dragged Vicky's pale hiny onto his lap. The seam of Vicky's labia rested against the body of Paul's silicone wrapped peepee. Vicky rested her palms on Paul's naked hips. She lifted her crotch in front of Paul's abs. She lowered the lips of her labia onto the tip of Paul's pecker. Paul's weiner glided inside a tube of mucus coated meat. Vicky's butt cheeks flattened tufts of hair poking out of Paul's thighs. Vicky's head tilted back. Her eyelids squeezed together.

"aaaOOOOO--" Vicky groaned. Paul gripped thick flesh surrounding Vicky's hips. He started humping. The surface of Paul's butt shuffled on top of a sheet stretched over his mattress. Vicky's fingernails sank into tough hide covering Paul's upper legs. Vicky rode on top of Paul's wandering cock. Vicky exhaled tiny whimpers on peaks of quick breaths. "ah-- ah-- ah-- ah--"




Chapter 13: "A Bubble Bath"
Table of Contents

It was 2:30 in the morning. Hailey soaked in a bubble bath. The bathroom lights were off. The door was locked. The room was surrounded by candlelight. Hailey's pale face poked out of lavender scented foam. The tips of Hailey's buttermilk shoulders emerged from mountains of suds. Curtains like flames surrounded Hailey's soft cheeks. Hailey's eyelids concealed her emerald irises. Hailey's bedroom CD player rested next to a brass support attached to the base of the bathtub. The disc Wednesday copied rested inside a jewel case beside Hailey's music device. Hailey played it while she poured her bath. Hailey switched to Walter's first album when she climbed into the tub.

Walter was one of Hailey's favorite bands. Easy going drum taps emerged from Hailey's CD player speakers. Walter's drummer switched to bass drums and cymbal clatters. Languid, guitar pumps played in time with melodic thuds. A single, distorted chord repeated. Walter's lead singer repeated a stanza with a scratchy, monotone voice. "Su-u-uch a sha-a-ame--" the singer sang. The bass guitar chord raised in pitch for the second half of the stanza. "gonnne todayyy--" Walter's lead singer sang on top.

Scalding water soaked Hailey's undressed skin. Heated, sud soaked liquid cooked Hailey's biceps, wrists, and fingers. Baked city water soothed Hailey's thighs, calves, and toes. Tiny breasts coated with minor lacerations sank into steaming hot bubbles. Nipples like pencil erasers extended into boiling soap soup. Hailey's bruised ribs and stomach blanched in scented bath water. Hailey ate half the pizza she ordered. She made a trip to the supermarket. Then, she cleaned the entire house and washed the dishes. Hailey's mom's bedroom floor was covered with dirty clothes. Hailey washed her mom's garments and hung them in her closet.

Hailey lifted tiny fingers off the bottom of a porcelain bowl. She gripped the rim of a slick washtub. Towers of tiny bubbles coated Hailey's forearms and elbows. Frosty air cooled Hailey's sopping wet skin. Dots of crimson acrylic decorated Hailey's fingernails. Most of the carnation nail polish Hailey applied the night before crumbled and fell off. Hailey's shoulders and neck sank into steaming liquid. Hailey folded bat hammered thighs on top of her stomach. Battered shins emerged from mountains of lavender suds. Toes stained with crimson nail polish glided through a sea of tiny bubbles.

Hailey's eyes opened. Anarchic emeralds stared below flat, apricot eyebrows. Orange flickers illuminated pale cheeks. Hailey's head turned. Her legs sank to the bottom of the tub. Hailey looked beside the porcelain wash basin. Travis, Jennifer, Gary, Tate, Vicky, Paul, Tommy, and Joe's school schedules were scattered along white tiles covering the floor. Travis and his friends all had Chemistry Friday at 9:45. Ovals forged with a red, colored pencil surrounded matching entries on each student schedule. Hailey faced forward. She smirked.

Joe sat on Paul's front porch. He sipped beer from a brown glass bottle. It was getting late. Joe knew he should be sleeping. He looked beside him. Sapphire hair spikes poked out of Tommy's scalp. Tommy lifted a brown bottle. He poured barley flavored suds onto the surface of his tongue. His head turned. Tommy found Joe's ocean blue irises staring at him. Surprised laughter erupted from Tommy's lips. Fermented liquid squirted out of Tommy's nostrils. Tommy looked away. He cackled through gaps separating his broken teeth. Joe watched his friend cracking up. He shook his head. He patted black canvas hanging from Tommy's shoulders.

"You alright they-uh, buddy?" Joe asked. Tommy lifted his chuckling face. He faced Joe. He forced words through laughing lips.

"I didn't-- I didn't--" Tommy exhaled on peaks of laughter. He squeezed grinning lips together. He plopped glass bottle threads between his lips. He tilted his beer container. He pointed between Joe's eyes. "Damn, Joey!" Tommy belched. "I didn't see you there!" Tommy sipped beer. "How long have you been sitting here?" Joe stared into black lenses covering his friend's eyes. He blinked.

"Dayum--" Joe groaned. "You need to relay-ux, dude." Tommy took a swig of oat soda. He faced forward. He lifted agitated fingers beside blue spikes poking out of his temples.

"Oh, you knoww--" Tommy hummed. "I got that-- hyperactive-- attention-- bullshit--" Tommy faced Joe. He stared through lenses of dark shades. He plopped the end of his beer bottle against his lips. He tilted a container filled with carbonated barley juice. Joe stared at pointed mirrors covering his buddy's eyes. He flapped impatient eyelids.

"You need to calm the fuck down, dude!" Beer shot out of Tommy's nostrils. He collapsed on top of his knees. He giggled like a three year old. Yeast flavored suds dribbled out of Tommy's chuckling lips. Joe studied his friend's disturbing behavior. He shook his head. "You know-- I'm still thinking about that chick," Joe remarked.

"Ah-haa--" Tommy exhaled from grinning mouth rims. He snorted through beer drenched sinus cavities. He hacked barley scented phlegm off of sopping wet vocal chords. He launched a beer flavored loogie onto tips of emerald grass blades growing out of Paul's front yard. "What chick?" Tommy asked. Joe studied blue spikes extending from the edges of his friend's scalp. He felt like he was speaking to a complete moron. Joe usually felt that way when he talked to Tommy about anything serious.

"Hai-leyy--" Joe snarled. "The chick we fuckin'-- beat to death, dumb-shit." Joe lifted intolerant arms wrapped in red leather. "Who da fuck did you think I was tawkin' about??"

"I know-- who you're talking about," Tommy squeezed through missing teeth. He looked up. "I'm trying not to think about that ssshit right now." Joe stared into the lenses of his friend's shades. Condescending irises gazed below flattened eyebrows. Joe faced forward. He sipped oat soda.

"Mayun--" Joe groaned. "I don't want to think about that shit, either."

"Then, why did you bring it up?" Tommy inquired. Tommy poured barley suds between his lips.

"'cause I can't stop thinkin' about it, mayun," Joe responded.

Tommy studied thick grass through dark shades. "I never seen that much blood before," Tommy remarked.

"She bled like a stuck pig, mayun--" Joe croaked. Tommy stared into space. He took a drink. He looked at strands of a black mohawk climbing out of his buddy's scalp.

"That freaked me out, Joey."

Joe licked his lips. "What's that, Tommy?"

Tommy tilted a glass neck poking out of his fingers. "You know-- when she told me to wrap tape around her whole face?" Tommy pointed in front of him with the base of his beer bottle. He squinted behind dim sunshades. "How did she know about that shit??" Joe watched his friend's movements. The corners of Joe's blue eyes crinkled.

"You think someone else taped her up?" Joe requisitioned. "Before us?"

Tommy shook a head full of sapphire spikes. "I don't know, yo." Tommy glanced at his buddy's eyes. "But it didn't make no sense to me, after that. What we were doing." Joe nodded. He pointed at Tommy's face with the end of his beer bottle.

"You don't fuck with Travis Griffin's girl, though-- mayun," Joe responded. Joe and Tommy looked up. They faced Limburger Drive. Rock music and engine noise vibrated humid air. "Speak of the devil--" Joe groaned. Joe finished his beer. He rested a glass bottle on Paul's porch. Tommy did the same. Tommy and Joe wandered into the yard. Travis skidded onto Mark Anthony Road. He parked beside a curb along the edge of Paul's lawn. He killed his truck. Travis, Jennifer, Gary, and Tate emerged from the pickup. "'sup, Trav?" Joe inquired. Travis stood on a concrete square fitted beside the end of Paul's yard. He folded arms wrapped in black leather over his chest. A condescending grin formed below Travis' cornflower irises.

"What're you two fags doing?" Travis asked. Tommy grinned. Gaps in broken teeth showed between Tommy's smiling lips.

"Aww, mann--" Tommy groaned. "What are these girls up to over here??" Tommy slipped behind Jennifer and Tatum. Arms like scrawny pythons slithered along the girls' shoulders. Tommy tightened canvas wrapped biceps and forearms around Jennifer and Tate's necks. Slender eyebrows under rows of crimson braids flattened Tate's pale blue irises. Disgusted lips peeled off of Tatum's teeth. Tate forced Tommy's scrawny fingers away from her bicep.

"Tommy, sto-o-op--" Tate groaned. Jennifer's pale irises stared at Tommy's blue hair spikes below points of annoyed eyebrows. Jennifer shoved black and white stripes covering Tommy's ribs.

"Get off me, freak!" Jennifer shouted. Tate glanced at Tommy's shades. She shook her head. Crimson braids swooped along banana sweater sleeves surrounding Tate's arms.

"You're such a perv," Tatum remarked.

"What're you guys doing here?" Joe asked Travis.

"We heard Paul's parents were out of town," Gary explained.

"We thought y'all were having a-- par-tay!" Travis belched. He shrugged. "But, I get here. And-- shit, it's just you two douchebags drinking beer." Paul opened the storm door. He wore a white, punk rock t-shirt and black flannel pajama bottoms. Lenses of blue sunglasses covered Paul's eyes. Paul looked towards the end of his yard. He sighed. He walked down concrete laid between blades of grass.

"Mayun--" Joe groaned. "Paul and Vicky are in they-uh sleeping, yo."

Travis watched Paul walking through the yard. "Not with each other?" Travis requisitioned.

"Aww, mann--" Paul groaned. Joe looked over his shoulder. Paul stopped next to his mohawk sporting friend. "Y'all don't be talkin' about people behind their backs."

"Tommy!" Gary shouted. Travis, Joe, and Paul looked near the rear end of Travis' pickup. "For fuck's sake!" Tommy's scrawny arms were wrapped around Tatum's waist. Gary pried Tommy's slender digits off of banana fabric covering his girlfriend's stomach. Gary shoved Tommy towards Paul's yard. "Quit-- fuckin' around!" Gary warned. Tommy lifted unapologetic palms beside his hips. He shrieked with laughter. Travis, Paul, and Joe faced each other. Joe peered into the lenses of Paul's sunglasses. He bobbed his head.

"Did you use thay-ut-- raincoat I gave you a while ago?"

Paul patted red leather surrounding Joe's shoulder. "I didd--" Paul croaked. He plucked a cigarette hanging from a space behind his ear. He pointed a cigarette filter at Joe's mohawk. "Thanks for that, buddy." Paul dropped a coffin nail between his lips. He reached into a pocket near the waist of his PJ britches. Joe removed teal wrappers from the pocket of his black jeans. He offered them to Paul. Paul suspended a plastic lighter in front of his cigarette. He raised the palm of his free hand. "Damn, Joe--" Paul groaned. "You're just full of surprises. Huh?" Paul yanked condom packets out of Joe's thoughtful fingers. He stuffed them into the pocket of his pajama bottoms. Paul lit his cigarette. Travis studied octagonal sapphires concealing Paul's eyes. He smirked.

"Hell, I thought you were gay," Travis remarked. Joe looked down. He shook his head.

"You know--" Paul responded. He yanked a stogie out of his mouth. He inhaled through his lips. He pointed at Travis with his cigarette. "I've noticed-- people who are gay--" Paul exhaled a tube of white mist from his lips. He shrugged. "They usually think other people are gay, too."

Travis' arms fell off of his chest. "Aww, you motha fucker--" Travis stepped towards Paul's yard. Paul plopped his cigarette between his lips. He lifted slippery fingers in front of his hips.

"Whoa-- Whoa!" Joe barked. Joe stepped between Travis and Paul. He raised defensive palms beside the edges of his face. "You two!" Joe glanced at the lenses of Paul's shades. He glared into Travis' cornflower irises. "Stop!!" Paul stared from tops of octagonal sapphires. Tubes of cigarette smoke leaked out of Paul's nostrils. Travis folded his arms over his chest. He painted his face with a condescending smirk. Tommy stepped onto the sidewalk. He tossed Tatum over his shoulder. Tate shrieked. Tommy wandered into the yard. Gary shook angry fingers in front of brown jacket fabric covering his shoulders.

"Tommy!" Gary shouted. "What-- the fuck, man?!" Travis, Joe, and Paul watched Gary hobbling behind Tommy. They looked at each other. Joe folded his arms over his chest. He shook his head.

"Fuckin' dumb ayuss--" Joe snarled. Paul heard the storm door shut. He looked over his shoulder. Vicky emerged from shadows filling the front porch. She wandered across a wooden deck on soles of naked feet. Her footsteps created tiny thumps. Paul's black bed quilt hung from Vicky's shoulders. Ends of a dark blanket dragged across sidewalk squares dividing Paul's yard. Vicky stood next to Paul. She closed her fingers around Paul's. She secured Paul's bedspread in front of her chest with the digits of her free hand. Paul plucked a lit cigarette from his lips. He plopped it between Vicky's. Jennifer stood next to Travis. She hooked her arm through her boyfriend's. Travis and Jennifer stared at Vicky's dark brown irises. The end of Paul's cigarette glowed bright orange. It faded. Tabacco fumes coiled away from the tip of Paul's coffin nail. Smoke erupted from Vicky's nostrils. Vicky looked beside her. Paul gazed back.

"What's-- going on out here?" Vicky inquired.

"Tommy!" Gary shouted. Travis, Jennifer, Joe, Paul, and Vicky looked towards the yard. Joe looked at Travis and Jennifer. He glanced at Vicky and Paul. He raised his palms in front of his shoulders.

"This fuckin' guy, mayun--" Joe groaned. Joe wandered into the yard. "Tommy!" he snapped. Paul looked into Jennifer's pale, blue eyes. He faked a smile. Jennifer stared back. She rolled her eyes. One of them was half shut. Jennifer glared at the edge of her boyfriend's jawline. Travis looked Vicky up and down. He studied thick blanket wrinkles strapped around the curves of Vicky's body. He looked beside to him. He lowered smug lips beside his girlfriend's ear.

"Baby, let's get outta here," Travis said quietly. Jennifer spun on toes of suede boots. Travis led his girlfriend to the pickup. He glanced into Paul's yard. "Gary!" Travis barked. "Tate! What the fuck?!" Joe wrangled Tommy's lanky arms away from Tatum's waist. Gary dragged his girlfriend away. Tommy dropped to his knees. Denim wrapped kneecaps sank into tufts of emerald grass blades. Tommy's blue spiked head dangled between his shoulder blades. Tommy's grinning lips tore themselves apart.

"Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha!" Tommy cackled through jagged teeth. Gary and Tate wandered towards Travis' truck. They looked at Paul and Vicky. They shook their heads. Paul showed Gary and Tatum his palm.

"Later, guys," he remarked. Gary and Tate waved back.

"Later, Paul," Gary responded. Doors surrounding Travis' truck opened and closed. Vicky looked at the lenses of Paul's shades.

"What-- was that all about?" Vicky requisitioned. Vicky offered Paul his cigarette. Travis fired up his pickup. Paul snatched his coffin nail from Vicky's fingertips. He studied quilted wads wrapped around Vicky's limbs. He took a drag.

"Did you come outside, fuckin'-- butt-ass naked with just a blanket on?" Paul inquired. Vicky's lips formed into a grin. Vicky squeezed Paul's blanket around her shoulders.

"N-Noo!" Vicky snarled. Travis peeled out. The engine of Travis' pickup filled empty air with an explosive howl. Travis' truck skidded around a corner. The pickup's motor and music system were still audible when they were six blocks away. Paul plopped his cigarette between his lips. He slung his forearm and bicep around Vicky's shoulders. He gripped the backs of Vicky's quilt wrapped knees with his other arm. Vicky shrieked. Paul lifted Vicky off of cold sidewalk. He carried her towards the house.

"Paul!" Vicky shouted. Paul looked towards Joe and Tommy. He bobbed his head.

"I'm going to bed, guys. It's late." Tommy and Joe waved at Paul. They looked at each other. They grinned.




Chapter 14: "Friday"
Table of Contents

It was 6:23. In the morning. Wednesday stared through a windshield. Wednesday's black leather jacket hung from her tiny shoulders. A red skirt with white polka dots covered Wednesday's thighs. Wednesday's calves sank into saddle shoes. The soles of Wednesday's footwear rested on top of her blue jean backpack. Necks of frilly socks hung from the collars of Wednesday's black and white shoes.

Wednesday's mom sat beside her daughter. Wednesday's mother had a pale, heart shaped face just like Wednesday. Mrs. Williams' face poked out of curtains of jet black, shoulder length hair. Pale, blue irises studied Wednesday's face below slender eyebrows. Wednesday's mom wore ruby red lipstick just like her daughter. A white silk blouse with long sleeves hung from Wednesday's mom's shoulders. Ruffles of a black skirt surrounded Wednesday's mom's thighs. Mrs. Williams' lower legs disappeared into black maryjanes with high heels. Wednesday's mom checked a clock near the middle of her dashboard. It was 6:24. In the morning. Mrs. Williams studied the edge of her daughter's pale face. She lifted fingers decorated with black nail polish. Wednesday's mom's pale digits collapsed on soft leather surrounding Wednesday's shoulder.

"Uhh--" Mrs. Williams groaned. "Wednesday?" Wednesday stared into space. Her pale irises bobbled along the surfaces of her eyelids. Wednesday's head turned. Wednesday gazed into her mother's eyes. Wednesday inhaled cool air between ruby lips. She exhaled a slow breath. Wednesday's mom inhaled frosty cabin gasses. "Are you going to get out of this car-- some time todayy--?" Wednesday's mom requisitioned. Wednesday formed ruby coated mouth edges into a grin. She faced forward. She tapped the surface of her backpack with toes of saddle shoes.

"I'll just-- go to work with you, if that's okay," Wednesday responded. She looked into her mom's eyes. Wednesday's mom stared back. She faked a smile. Gritted teeth showed through Mrs. Williams' ruby lips.

"Wednesday--" Wednesday's mom squeezed through mashed together incisors. "Either get out of this car willingly-- or I'm going to throw you out." Wednesday looked at her lap. She squeezed her lips together. Wednesday reached across a plastic console dividing the front seats. She squeezed her mom's tiny waist. Leather surrounding Wednesday's biceps and shoulders crunched like a bag of potato chips. Wednesday's mom threw arms wrapped in white silk around her daughter's shoulders.

"I love you, mom," Wednesday remarked. Wednesday's mom sank fingertips decorated with dots of black acrylic into black leather between her daughter's shoulder blades. She soothed Wednesday's back.

"I love you too, sweetie," Wednesday's mom responded. "Now, get out of the God damn car-- and go to school!" Wednesday's arms dropped off of her mom's ribs. Wednesday plopped down in her seat. She stared out of the windshield.

"Sheez--" Wednesday groaned. Wednesday studied her mom's pale face. "You and Dad have a nice weekend," Wednesday remarked. "Okay?" Mrs. Williams gazed into her daughter's pale irises. She smiled.

"Thank you, honey," she replied. Wednesday's mom reached across the console. Her soft fingers squeezed shut around Wednesday's. Wednesday's mom wobbled her daughter's ornery fingers. "Wednesday-- get out of the car! Now!" Wednesday faced the floor. Slender eyebrows lifted above Wednesday's pale, blue eyes. Wednesday collected her backpack. She opened her mom's passenger door. She stepped onto sidewalk beside her mom's red, compact car. She tossed her blue, denim backpack onto a concrete square near the edge of Glory High's main parking lot.

Wednesday closed her mom's car door. She waved good-bye through a rhombus shaped window. Wednesday's mom waved back. She pulled away from the curb. Wednesday sat beside her book bag. She watched her mother's red rice burner until it was out of sight. Wednesday dug out a smoke. She plopped a coffin nail between her ruby stained lips. She sparked it to life with her gold plated Flippo lighter. Wednesday looked down Dora Lane. She was dying to talk to Hailey. She missed her friend so much, it hurt. It felt like a part of her was missing. Wednesday stared down a lonely road. She sighed. The sky was overcast. City lights illuminated dark clouds with a violet glow. Wednesday hoped Hailey made it home okay. She took a drag from her cigarette. She processed that thought.

"She's fine," Wednesday told herself. "I'm just-- being paranoid. What are they gonna do to her? She's-- harmless." A light drizzle began falling. Wednesday looked up. She came prepared. She was pelted by rain all day Thursday. She was sick of it. Wednesday retrieved a black umbrella from her backpack. It compacted to the size of a television remote. "They better not have tried anything," Wednesday grumbled. Wednesday slipped her umbrella out of a canvas sleeve. She opened it above her head. "I'll fucking kill them." Wednesday stared down Dora Lane. She cyphoned a ruby stained cigarette filter. Wednesday exhaled a sigh. A tube of white mist erupted from her lips.

"Why-- didn't she answer the phone?" Wednesday inquired. Wednesday called Hailey's house at 7:00. She called a second time at 8:00. No one answered. Wednesday tried again around 10:30. No one answered. Wednesday called a fourth time at 11:00. No one answered that call, either. Sometimes, Hailey's mom did not answer the phone because she was passed out. And, Hailey didn't usually hear the phone from her room. It wasn't that unusual for the Holloways to ignore a phone call. Still, Wednesday laid in bed until one o'clock in the morning worrying about it. Wednesday exhaled a nervous breath through puffed up cheeks. She drummed soles of saddle shoes on concrete covering the gutter. Necks of frilly socks flapped like tiny, silk parachutes. Wednesday folded arms wrapped in soft leather on polka dotted ruffles covering her thighs.

"I should've called her, again," Wednesday remarked. She took a drag from her cigarette. She exhaled tobacco fumes. She hugged her neck with her shoulders. She shivered. "I should've called-- until somebody answered." Wednesday felt sick to her stomach. She worried herself sick all night. She tossed and turned beneath uncomfortable covers. She worried no matter how many times she reassured herself. She couldn't shake the feeling something terrible happened. Wednesday slid nervous fingers through slick strands hanging from her scalp. Her hair singed.

"Ho-o-o--" Wednesday croaked. Wednesday switched her cigarette to her umbrella fingers. She checked chin length strands resting beside her cheek. Wednesday's hair felt fine. Wednesday retrieved her coffin nail. She took a drag. Wednesday wanted to see Hailey's colorful face. She wanted to know Hailey was okay. She also needed her little buddy to talk to. Wednesday and Hailey always spent time talking before school. Wednesday's mother dropped her off an hour and a half early so she could get to work by seven. But, that was fine. Because, Wednesday spent that time with Hailey. Hailey was an early riser. She typically showed up an hour and a half early, too.

Wednesday lifted her fingers. Pale digits decorated with black nail polish trembled. Wednesday's cigarette wobbled between her first and second fingers. Wednesday's eyes teared up. Her lips quivered. Wednesday tapped ash off the end of her cigarette. She pressed a ruby coated cigarette filter against her lips. She looked down Dora Lane. She expected to see Hailey walking down the street. Wednesday squeezed irritated eyelids together. She dropped sopping wet eyelids on the tips of her fingers. Wednesday looked up. She exhaled cigarette smoke. She inhaled a breath.

"I'm calling her at lunch," Wednesday remarked. She licked her lips. "I'm gonna go-- down to the office-- and call her." Wednesday closed her eyes. She inhaled through her tiny nostrils. Wednesday unsealed pale, blue irises. She gazed through drizzle. She took a drag from her cigarette. She crushed it on curved concrete beside her feet. Wednesday stared at a house standing in front of her. It was surrounded by red bricks. The house's front door was made of polished oak. A semi circular window was forged into the top of the door. It was sectioned into four pieces. It looked like half of a cut up pie. Tall, white numbers were fastened vertically along the right end of the door. Wednesday read them, quietly. "9-6-3--" Wednesday whispered.

Paul patted drizzle off of his hair. He covered brown locks hanging from his scalp with a black hood attached to his jacket. He produced a pipe from the front pocket of his black jeans. He gripped a chrome plated nozzle with his teeth. He snagged a plastic lighter from the same pocket. He dropped it. Paul's lighter rested on a white, rubber cap fastened to the toe of his right shoe. Black canvas was sutured around Paul's insteps. White laces strapped Paul's sneakers around his feet. Paul bent over. He recovered his lighter. He ignited it. Paul suspended a tangerine flame in front of a chrome plated rim threaded onto the end of his pipe. He cyphoned a shiny tube extending from his lips. The tip of a butane eruption bowed into the end of Paul's pipe. Paul took a toke. He handed his pipe and his plastic lighter to Martin.

Martin stood beside Paul on blades of lush grass. A crimson dress shirt with long sleeves hung from Martin's broad shoulders. Martin's snakeskin boots poked out of legs of pale trousers. Martin and Paul stood on Martin's front lawn. They faced artistically woven oak trees. Martin took a toke. He inhaled pot vapors. He held his breath for twenty seconds. He exhaled burning, skunk flavored mist. Martin handed Paul his pipe and his lighter. Paul tapped the edge of a slick tube with a plastic body storing butane.

"You know what time it is?" Paul asked. Martin looked at his wrist. A gold plated band was strapped below the beginning of Martin's palm. Martin studied tiny sticks pointing at Roman numerals.

"It's a quarter 'til seven," Martin responded.

Paul nodded. "She'll be finished pretty soon." Paul plopped the end of his pipe against his lips. He took a puff.

"Paull--" Martin groaned.

"Mmm--" Paul grumbled. Paul yanked his pipe away from his lips. He inhaled steaming vapors. "What's up?" Paul squeezed through pot smoke.

"Paul, it's becoming-- pretty obvious to me that you and my daughter had sex last night." Paul snorted. He exhaled pot smoke from his nostrils on peaks of nervous laughter. Paul inhaled nails. He began coughing. Paul pounded his chest. He passed his pipe and his lighter to Martin. Paul cleared his throat. He turned his head. He spit.

"God dammn--" Paul croaked. He cleared his throat again. "Was it that obvious?" Paul looked up. He watched Martin take a toke. Paul pressed his lips together. "We used a condom." Martin held a hit. He calmly exhaled pot smoke.

"Yeahh--" Martin grumbled. "That's reassuring." Martin handed Paul his pipe and his lighter. Paul stared into Martin's dark irises. He sighed.

"Look, Martin--" Paul responded. "I like Vicky." Paul licked his lips. "Okay?" Paul's head was spinning. Paul felt like he was focusing on Martin's face from a seat on a carnival ride. Martin stared at Paul through wise, crinkled eyes. Paul plopped his pipe between his lips. He yanked a chrome nozzle away from the rims of his mouth. He raised his palms beside his ribs. "I've-- always liked her!" Paul belched. "Since the first time I met her." Martin glared at Paul through wrinkled eye sockets. Martin's piercing irises were dark brown just like Vicky's. Paul shook anxious fingers in front of his shoulders. "Marrtin--" Paul groaned. "Come on, mann--" Paul bowed his head. He rubbed his eyes. He had trouble concentrating. He felt like he was swimming through an ocean in a rainstorm. Paul looked towards Martin's dark irises. "P-Please don't be mad, Martin," Paul begged. Martin blinked. He shook his head. He faced wound up tree limbs.

"I'll, uh--" Martin rambled. Martin squinted. "I'll see if I can get her on the pill." Paul studied peppered hair poking out of Martin's scalp. Auburn eyebrows lifted above the lenses of Paul's sapphire shades.

"Ohh--" Paul groaned. "Well, shit-- I don't know if you have to do all that."

Martin glanced beside him. "She's not comin' around with no babies," Martin responded. Paul snorted. He yanked his pipe away from his lips. He began exhaling pot smoke from his nostrils on peaks of nervous chuckles. Paul handed his pipe and his lighter to Martin. "If she's gonna have sex with you--" Martin added. Martin hung a shiny tube from his lips. He shook his head. Martin lowered his face. He suspended a flame in front of Paul's pipe. "I want her to do it right." Paul began coughing. He showed Martin his palm. Martin exhaled a hit. He handed Paul his pipe and his lighter. "So, what about this other thing?" Martin requisitioned.

Paul tapped the end of his pipe with his lighter. "What's that?" Paul inquired.

"You always pretend--" Martin grumbled. "That you don't know what I'm talking about, Paul." Martin peered into the lenses of Paul's blue shades. Chocolate irises stared through wrinkled eye tunnels. "But, you fucking know--"

Paul sighed. "Some-- girl beat up Jennifer at school, yesterday," Paul explained. "She attacked her."

"That's what Travis told me," Martin replied. "He said this girl was-- stalking him??" Martin rubbed his eyes. Peppered eyebrows lifted above the ends of Martin's fingers. "Uhh--" Martin groaned. He looked at blue lenses covering Paul's eyes. "So what happened, Paul?" Martin inquired. Paul faced forward. He lit up. Paul yanked his pipe away from his lips. He inhaled.

"We killed her--" Paul forced through pot smoke. He looked into Martin's eyes. Martin stared through wrinkled eye sockets. He licked his lips.

"Did you guys get rid of the body?" Martin asked. "Like I taught you?" Paul handed Martin his pipe and his lighter. "Or, did you just-- throw it out in the street like last time?" Martin dangled Paul's pipe from his lips.

"We buried it," Paul replied.

Martin ignited Paul's lighter near the end of his pipe. "Where?" Martin requisitioned.

Paul shrugged. "Some-- vacant lot," he explained. "Outside of town."

Martin nodded. "That's good." Martin inhaled skunk flavored vapor. He handed Paul his pipe and his lighter. He exhaled burning mist. "If you guys had to do it--" Martin grumbled. He stared into space. He shook his head. Paul stared at jade green grass blades poking out of Martin's yard. He licked his lips. They didn't have to kill Hailey. Paul knew better. But, it was too late for that. It was done. Paul and Martin jumped. Stuffy heads turned on wandering necks. Vicky exited the front door of Martin's house. She wandered into the yard. Vicky wore black, bell bottom jeans and a white turtleneck sweater. Bodies of red ballerina flats surrounded Vicky's insteps. Vicky stood beside Paul. Paul reached for Vicky's tiny fingers. Vicky swatted Paul's fingers, nervously.

"The jig is up," Paul explained. "He knows." Vicky squeezed her fingers around Paul's. She gazed into her dad's piercing irises.

"Dadd--" Vicky groaned. Martin stared into his daughter's eyes. His irises floated across his corneas. Martin stared into space.

"Uh--" he grumbled. Martin blinked. "There's a cigar box--" he explained. Martin separated sticky lips. "In my top dresser drawer." Martin studied empty space. He turned around. He disappeared into the house. Paul stared at chocolate brown strands hanging beside Vicky's pale cheeks. He licked rubbery lips.

"Uhh-- what?" Paul inquired.

Vicky studied the lenses of Paul's sunglasses. "He doesn't smoke cigars," Vicky responded. Paul stared into Vicky's chocolate irises. He blinked behind sapphire stop signs. Vicky's eyes popped open. Her lips parted.

"Jeez--" Vicky groaned. "You two are really stoned, huh?"

"Mmmm--" Paul grumbled. Paul's head swayed like a tree in the wind. "Ohh, yeahhh--" Paul purred. Vicky chuckled. She slipped her fingers away from Paul's. She soothed Paul's knuckles.

"I'll be right back," Vicky stated. She disappeared into the house. Paul stared into space. He walked towards the front of the house. He sat near the end of Martin's front porch. An awning of stained pine hung above Paul's head. A set of square shaped posts supported Martin's porch shade above a knee high deck. Paul studied limbs of twisted oak trees. Long, crooked branches spun together between swirling trunks. Paul nodded off. Eyes behind octagonal sapphires followed mahogany branches woven into braids beside rows of jade green leaves. Paul's muscles and limbs went limp. Tetrahydrocannabinol shifted Paul into a coma. Vicky returned with a cigar box. She sat beside Paul. She squeezed excited limbs around Paul's left elbow. She rested her head on Paul's shoulder. Vicky inhaled through her lips.

"Paul, we have to go get Joe and Tommy," Vicky remarked. Paul forced heavy eyelids apart. He stared through sapphire panes.

"Mm-hmm--" Paul croaked.

Vicky chuckled. "We dropped them off at their houses so they could get ready for school," Vicky explained. "Remember?" Vicky's face turned on top of soft fabric hanging from Paul's shoulder. Vicky looked behind the lenses of Paul's shades. "We've gotta go, Paul," Vicky stated. "We've gotta go pick them up."

"Mmm--" Paul hummed. He smacked sticky lips. "I'm gotta--" Paul grumbled. He stared into space. Vicky lifted her head off of Paul's shoulder. She studied Paul's face. Paul pointed over his shoulder with his thumb.

"Uh-- what?" Vicky inquired.

Paul's fingers dropped on black denim covering his thigh. "Uhh--" Paul groaned. He flapped paralyzed eyelids. He inhaled between dry lips. "W-Water--" Paul squeezed out. Paul faced Vicky. He stared at Vicky's chocolate irises through sapphire panes. "Y-You know??" Vicky giggled. She kissed Paul's cheek.

"Okay," Vicky responded. Vicky rested the cigar box beside Paul's hip. "I'll go get you some water, real quick." Vicky hopped up. She wandered into the house.

"Umm--" Paul grumbled. "Yeahh--"

Travis tied Jennifer's arms behind her back. He wound a long strand of rope along the surfaces of his girlfriend's pale wrists. He pulled woven strips away from a complicated knot. Slender bands sank into Jennifer's soft flesh.

"Gyah!" Jennifer squealed. Jennifer kicked agitated feet behind undressed thighs. "Not so tight!" Jennifer fidgeted on velvet sofa cushions in Travis' living room. Breasts coated with fading welts glided on top of fuzzy fabric the color of red wine. Jennifer's trim stomach sank into the surface of a crimson couch seat. Travis' thick pecks hovered above Jennifer's cycling toes. Travis' furious face extended from his thick neck. Muscular biceps hung from Travis' shoulders. Travis' fingers squeezed shut around Jennifer's ankle. Travis lifted Jennifer's foot in front of his naked chest. He slapped Jennifer's fiesty ass cheek.

"Shut the fuck up!" Travis barked.

"Ahh!" Jennifer shouted. Jennifer's furious face looked at Travis above her shoulder. "Jesus, Travis!" Travis wound rope around Jennifer's ankles. He forged a knot and pulled opposing strands. Bands of spun twine squeezed Jennifer's soft calves. Jennifer arched her back. Jennifer's head tossed brunette strands between her shoulder blades. "aaaaa--" Jennifer groaned. Travis tied lengths of rope dangling from Jennifer's bound wrists to strands hanging from her ankles. He tightened adjoining knots until Jennifer's spine folded in half. "AAaahh--" Jennifer squealed. "Shit!"

Travis' naked thighs and calves wandered beside the ends of his living room couch cushions. Jennifer's pale irises watched Travis walk by above peaks of pale shoulders. Jennifer's agitated face swiveled on the end of her neck. Jennifer watched Travis disappear into a hallway. Jennifer's heart thumped in her throat. Jennifer kicked her feet. Twine wound along Jennifer's naked calves stretched tendons in her shoulders.

"OOoohh--" Jennifer groaned. Wide eyes stared above a velvet armrest hanging over the end of the sofa. Jennifer's wild irises searched empty space. "T-Travis!" Jennifer shrieked. "Travis, we're gonna be late!"

Hailey balanced on the peak of a marble gravestone. Hailey's pale face rested on arms wrapped in crimson wool. White buttons the size of hard candy fastened the ends of Hailey's coat sleeves around her wrists. Fingers of red leather gloves poked out of the ends of Hailey's jacket sleeves. A wool hood the color of blood surrounded Hailey's colorful precipice. A white skirt hung from the waist of Hailey's crimson coat. White ruffles draped the edges of Hailey's knees. Long, white socks wrapped Hailey's calves. Thick, red stripes surrounded the necks of Hailey's stockings. Hailey's candy cane ankles sank into white canvas shoes. Red laces a half inch thick strapped Hailey's sneakers over her insteps. Loops of fat, crimson bows dangled from the necks of Hailey's tennis shoes.

Hailey's red backpack hung from her shoulders. Her book bag wasn't filled with textbooks. Hailey stuffed her backpack full of tube socks to muffle colliding artillery. Then, she added rolls of duct tape, claw hammers, butcher's knives, a bundle of rope, a can of anti-rust spray, plastic lighters, a staple gun, and a bottle of charcoal starter fluid. Hailey shoved billiard balls inside additional tube socks. She tied necks of billiard stockings into knots. Hailey also dropped her dad's boot pistol into a pocket sutured to the right edge of her backpack. She stored a box of 9MM ammo in a pocket fastened to the opposite end of her book bag.

Crimson red lipstick covered Hailey's lips. Sopping wet emeralds stared out of the lenses of Hailey's glasses. Curtains of flames surrounded Hailey's dejected face. Hailey's cheeks were soaked with tears. Hailey felt numb. She bawled herself into oblivion. She could no longer feel pain. Tiny raindrops pelted the hood of Hailey's crimson coat. Droplets of precipitation coated the lenses of Hailey's glasses. Hailey watched a funeral service from thirty yards away. Fifty people gathered underneath a canvas canopy. They watched a pink coffin being lowered into a hole. Hailey stashed Larry and her mother's bodies along the bottom of the rectangular opening.

Hailey read in Malley's obituaries that the funeral was for a lady named "Catherine J. Smith". Catherine's obituary notice stated her services would end around 8:30. Catherine's carnation casket was lowered into a freshly dug grave. Catherine's family and friends began lining up to toss handfuls of dirt on top. Hailey drove to the funeral in her mother's S.U.V. But, Hailey didn't have a permit to park her mom's vehicle at school. Not only that, she did not want her mother's S.U.V. to be spotted in Glory High's parking lot. After all, Hailey was not supposed to be there. Her suspension was her alibi. Hailey considered parking her mom's vehicle somewhere close by. But, she worried it might be spotted there as well.

So, Hailey needed to book. Travis, Jennifer, Gary, Tate, Vicky, Paul, Joe, and Tommy would be in their chemistry class in an hour and fifteen minutes. And, Hailey still had to walk to school. Hailey didn't have a plan. She was going to have to lure Travis and his friends out of class. Then, she was going to have to attack them. Hailey squeegeed salinated bodily fluids off of her soft cheeks. She shoved herself away from an upright gravestone. Hailey's sudden shift revealed white buttons fastening her red, wool coat in front of her chest. Porcelain discs closing the front of Hailey's jacket matched fasteners along the ends of her sleeves. Hailey hurried through the cemetery. She headed for her mom's S.U.V.




Chapter 15: "The Glory High Slasher"
Table of Contents

It was sprinkling. Lightning swirled across charcoal black clouds. Orange, violet, and blue bolts illuminated a roaring backdrop. Hailey stood in front of the entrance to Glory High. She gazed at the sky. She studied colorful discharges. Hailey wore a hooded red coat with large, white buttons. The collar of a red blouse poked out of an opening near the neck of Hailey's wool jacket. A white skirt descended to Hailey's knees. Knee high candy cane socks sank into white, canvas shoes. Red laces strapped porcelain canvas around Hailey's feet. Red leather gloves covered Hailey's tiny fingers. Crimson lipstick coated Hailey's lips.

Hailey looked in front of her. She opened the same door that was unlocked the night before. She wandered into the building. Travis and his friends' chemistry class was located on the right hand side of the hallway Hailey entered. A boys' restroom was a few doors from there. It was constructed along the left edge of the hallway. It was near the end of the hall. Hailey decided to set up in the bathroom. She planned on luring Travis and his friends to the shitter. Hailey figured they would only come a couple at a time. That would enable Hailey to pick off Travis and his buddies easily. It would be like guerrilla warfare. Hailey crept down a quiet hallway. She passed three dysfunctional security cameras fastened to the ceiling. She walked by heavy, wood doors. They were all closed. Rumbles of thunder were just enough to conceal Hailey's soft footsteps. Hailey followed floor tiles to the boys' room. She studied a digital clock sticking out of the wall. It was 9:52.

Hailey walked into the bathroom. The lights flickered out. Hailey stared into black space. Muffled shouts sank through walls of nearby classrooms. Murmurs of teachers getting onto students soon followed. The lights came back on. A crackle filled the air. It became an eruption that shook the building. Hailey glanced around the boys' room. Two sinks hung from the right hand wall. Large mirrors were fastened above porcelain wash basins. A paper towel dispenser was suspended between the bathroom sinks. Three urinals hung beside the wash area. Two stalls were contructed beside vertical toilets. Thick, steel dividers coated with white paint surrounded porcelain bowls. Large, white tiles covered the walls. Tiny, white tiles decorated the floor. The bathroom seemed empty.

Hailey walked to the middle of the room. She dropped her backpack on tiny, porcelain squares. She ripped open her tomato red book bag. Hailey took out a set of pool ball socks. She laid a pair of butcher's knives next to billiard bashers. She took out a roll of duct tape, a lighter, and a can of anti-rust spray. She trimmed strands of rope with a kitchen knife. She chopped each piece about eight feet long. She laid sash cord extensions beside everything else. She slid her backpack against the wall. Hailey opened the door a crack. She looked around. The hallway was completely empty. Hailey crept towards Travis, Jennifer, Gary, Tate, Vicky, Paul, Joe, and Tommy's chemistry class. She stood beside a door made of polished wood. She peeked through a square shaped window near the top of a slick rectangle.

Tommy sat beside a lab table with Joe, Vicky, and Paul. He wore a black jacket, a black dress shirt, pale blue jeans, and white sneakers. Black sunglasses covered Tommy's eyes. Tommy looked above a slick, charcoal black surface.

"Man, I looove thunderstorms," Tommy remarked. "You guys think they'll let us go home if the power goes out?" Travis, Jennifer, Gary, and Tate were in a group across from Vicky, Paul, Joe, and Tommy. Travis wore a black leather jacket, a green shirt, dark blue jeans, and black boots. Jennifer wore a pink, pastel sweater, red and black flannel pants, and saddle shoes. Gary wore a brown jacket, a white shirt, navy blue jeans, and red sneakers. Tatum wore a white sweater, a blue jean skirt, black panty hose, and black flats. Travis and his friends' tables were right beside the classroom door. Vicky, Joe, and Tommy watched Paul, carefully. Paul suspended a test tube above a Bunsen burner flame. He dangled a glass container filled with clear fluid from a set of tongs. Paul looked at Tommy through blue lenses surrounded by safety goggles.

"I'm good with that," Paul responded.

"Yeah, mayun--" Joe croaked. Joe wore his red leather jacket, a black t-shirt, baby blue jeans, and black sneakers. One of Joe's favorite punk rock bands was featured on the surface of his t-shirt. Joe stared at a test tube hovering above an orange flame. "When's that shit gonna do something, already?" Joe inquired. Paul looked into Joe's ocean blue irises. He smirked.

"It's water, Joe."

"Oh," Joe replied. Joe leaned back. He stretched arms surrounded by red leather tubes behind his head. Joe and Tommy's stools faced the door. Paul and Vicky sat with their backs facing the hallway. Joe studied Travis, Jennifer, Gary, and Tatum's table. Travis' group focused on a test tube Travis was heating. Travis and Jennifer sat with their backs facing the door. Gary and Tate sat across from them. Joe squinted. Joe's sapphire irises followed Tate's long, red braids. Joe's eyes studied crimson knots hanging from Tatum's scalp. Curious pupils traced blood red carotene locks behind Tate's backrest. The corners of Joe's lips formed a discrete smile. Joe studied ends of twisted, crimson locks. Claret sprouts hovered a foot above white floor tiles.

Movement beside the classroom door caught Joe's attention. Joe tried to ignore it. He focused on Tate's blood red braids. He watched long, crimson strands twirling like tiny tornadoes. Joe finally checked the door. He froze. Joe's sapphire irises stared through a pane of glass. Joe was struck dumb. Paul whispered something into Vicky's ear. Vicky giggled. Tommy leaned across the lab table. He bobbed his head.

"You fucks," Tommy whispered. He pointed between Paul and Vicky's faces. "What-- are you whispering about??" Paul and Vicky smiled at each other. They faced the Bunsen burner. They shook their heads.

"Heyy!" Joe rasped. Paul, Vicky, and Tommy looked at Joe's agitated face. Joe pointed across the room. Paul, Vicky, and Tommy studied a glass square near the top of the classroom door. Paul's head spun around.

"Ahh-- shit!" Paul squeezed through agitated teeth. Paul deposited the glass test tube into a tiny, wooden rack. He laid his tongs beside his table's Bunsen burner. He sucked a knuckle near the middle of his index finger. He looked above black fabric hanging from his shoulder. He stared into emerald irises between curtains of flames. Apricot eyebrows flattened fiery eye sockets behind rectangular lenses. A crimson hood surrounded Hailey's pale face. Claret beeswax coated Hailey's lips. Hailey's ferocious precipice looked like something out of a nightmare. It looked demonic.

Paul wiggled Gary's shoulder. Gary and Tate looked behind them. Travis and Jennifer looked away from their Bunsen burner. Paul glanced around the classroom. Everyone was caught up in their lab projects. The chemistry instructor sat beside a group's worktable. His back faced the door. He joked with a lab group about something they were working on. Paul faced Travis' table. He pointed at the door. Travis and his friends turned around. They stared at Hailey's terrifying face. Ice cold emeralds stared below points of flattened, flame tinted eyebrows. A crimson shroud surrounded pillars of fire.

Travis' head spun like a top. Travis rested his test tube in a rack on his group's lab table. He dropped scorching hot tongs beside a wooden tube holder. He dropped frustrated eyelids on tips of agitated fingers. He dragged ends of thick digits across wrinkles creasing his forehead. He dropped frustrated fists on the surface of his group's lab table. Cornflower irises gazed underneath bushy, black eyebrows. Travis pointed between Joe and Tommy's faces.

"Joe--" Travis whispered. "Tommy--" Travis pointed his thumb above wads of black leather hanging from his deltoid. Travis squeezed angry lips together. He looked over his shoulder. Hailey stared into Travis' cornflower blue irises. Her head tilted. Her lips drifted apart. The surface of Hailey's tongue wandered behind crimson stained mouth edges. Travis' face spun around. Travis swung his arm in front of his chest. He motioned towards the window. "Go-- get that bitch!" Travis squeezed through gritted teeth.

Joe and Tommy looked at their teacher, Mr. Craddock. Mr. Craddock wore a blue, knit sweater, tan slacks, and shiny leather shoes. Waves of silver hair were glued to the top of Mr. Craddock's pale face. Mr. Craddock was still talking with another group. He was oblivious to what was going on across the room. Joe and Tommy looked at the window. Hailey was gone. Tommy and Joe looked into each other's eyes. They slithered off of their lab stools. They crept towards the hallway door. Mr. Craddock picked that exact moment to glance across the room. Bushy eyebrows flattened Mr. Craddock's pale irises. Mr. Craddock watched Tommy and Joe inching towards the classroom door.

"Uhh--" Mr. Craddock groaned. "Guys?" Joe and Tommy froze. They looked at Mr. Craddock above guilty shoulders. "Going somewhere?"

Tommy pointed at the hallway door. "Bathroom!" he barked.

"Water fountain!" Joe added.

Mr. Craddock stared at the boys. "Well, alright," Mr. Craddock conceded. "But, hurry back. We've got a lot to do today."

Gary waved anxious fingers above dark brown hair strands surrounding his face. "Can I go, too?" Gary asked.

Tatum flailed an excited arm above crimson braids hanging from her scalp. "Ooo!" Tate shouted. "Me, too!" Mr. Craddock studied Gary and Tate's behavior. He narrowed his eyes.

"Noo--" Mr. Craddock groaned. "Uh-uh. Two at a time, guys." Mr. Craddock pointed at Tommy and Joe. "Wait for Tommy and Joe to get back, first. Alright?" Gary looked into Joe and Tommy's anxious faces. He shrugged. Joe bobbed his head. Joe and Tommy slipped into the hallway. They looked around.

"Where the FUCK is she??" Joe whispered.

Tommy shook anxious fingers in front of his shoulders. "Howw-- is she still alive??" he rasped. Tommy looked towards the boys' room at the end of the hall. He studied a shiny door covering the entrance. The door bounced. Tommy watched a shiny rectangle closing off the boys' room. The door opened a crack. Hailey's fiery face peaked out. Tommy stared into Hailey's emerald irises. Hair along the back of Tommy's neck stood on end. He felt like he was staring at some sort of enchanted creature. Tommy pointed towards the boys' room. Joe looked down the hall.

"Ah, yeahh--" Joe snarled. "I see the little bitch." Joe and Tommy crept down the hallway. They looked around for witnesses. Hailey disappeared behind the bathroom door. "You know thayut's the boys' room, right dollface?" Joe barked. Tommy grabbed red leather surrounding his buddy's bicep. Joe stopped beside the restroom door. He looked into black lenses covering Tommy's eyes.

"Joe--" Tommy whispered through broken teeth. "What if she's got a gun?"

Joe shrugged. "Then, why didn't she just-- walk into class and start shooting at us?"

Tommy thought. "Maybe she has a silencer."

Joe shoved black fabric covering Tommy's bony chest. "Dayum-it, Tommy--" Joe snarled. Joe pushed the bathroom door out of his way. He stomped into the shitter. Tommy followed his friend. Joe threw his hands on his hips. He studied items Hailey scattered along the floor. He looked at stalls concealing the corner of the restroom. Joe figured Hailey was standing on one of the toilets. Tommy stared at thick steel surrounding porcelain toilet bowls. "Hai-leyy--" Joe teased. "Are you in there?"

Tommy cackled like a maniac. "Ehh-ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-haa!!" Tommy's boastful chuckling bounced on tiles surrounding the restroom. Joe picked up the can of rust remover. He tossed it across the bathroom. A pressurized cylinder collided with a wall surrounding the closest stall. The spray can rolled across tiles covering the floor.

"I'm gonna rip your THROAT out, Hailey!" Joe hollered. Hailey crept up behind the boys. She was hidden behind the bathroom door when they walked in. Hailey stalked towards Joe and Tommy. Billiard ball socks dangled from Hailey's fingers. Joe studied bathroom stall dividers. He licked his lips. "Hai-leyy--" Joe teased. Hailey studied short, blue spikes poking out of Tommy's skull. She stared at a black blanket hanging from the middle of Joe's scalp. Edges of charcoal mohawk strands shuffled on top of Joe's shaved head. Hailey's shoulders swiveled ninety degrees. Hailey dangled a stocking smacker behind candy cane stripes climbing her calf. She swung a resin ball hanging from the neck of a tube sock. A six ounce sphere sank into sapphire thorns extending from Tommy's scalp. Tommy collapsed beside the toes of Hailey's white canvas shoes. Joe spun on soles of black sneakers. Hailey dangled billiard ball socks behind the heels of her tennis shoes. She sucked a breath through clenched teeth. She battered Joe's temples with resin spheres.

"EAAAAAHH!!" Hailey shouted. Joe collapsed next to Tommy. Hailey dropped the billiard ball socks beside butcher's knives and duct tape. She snatched a length of rope off of tiny tiles. She wound twisted twine around Tommy's wrists. She dragged Tommy's limp carcass next to the nearest stall. She tossed the end of the rope over the stall divider. She retrieved the beginning of a twine strand from the other side. She pulled the rope hand over hand. Spun filaments lifted Tommy off of tiny floor tiles. Hailey watched a space underneath a steel sheet. She stopped reeling rope when Tommy's feet were twelve inches above the floor. She knelt down. She wound the other end of the rope around Tommy's ankles. She fashioned a knot. Hailey tied Joe's wrists. She dragged Joe's lifeless body beside the stalls. She suspended Joe next to his friend. She knotted his limbs in place. Hailey grabbed a roll of duct tape and a pair of empty socks. She stuffed cotton stockings between Joe and Tommy's lips. She wound duct tape around their heads. Hailey lifted fingers surrounded by red leather. She patted Joe and Tommy's cheeks.

Joe and Tommy stirred. They opened their eyes. They looked at each other. They struggled with rope suspending their limbs from thick steel. They shouted into surfaces of wadded socks. Hailey rested on shins wrapped in red and white stripes. A tiny butt surrounded by white skirt ruffles collapsed on shoe canvas strapped behind Hailey's heels. Stubby digits wrapped in red leather flattened on porcelain tiles beside Hailey's knees. Fingers surrounded by cow hide shafts closed around the handle of a butcher's knife. Ferocious emeralds gazed below the rim of a crimson hood. The boys' faces shook. Joe's ocean blue eyes popped open. Bushy eyebrows lifted above the lenses of Tommy's sunglasses. Joe and Tommy shrieked into tube sock gags. Hailey's leather coated fingers dragged a stainless steel point along tops of tiny, porcelain tiles. Hailey leaned forward. Her momentum lifted her backside off of her heels. Hailey stomped across miniature bathroom tiles.

"You guys remember Biology, right?" Hailey inquired. Hailey stood in front of Tommy. She lifted fingers wrapped in red leather. She unfastened three buttons securing the bottom of Tommy's black shirt. She watched Tommy's pale stomach heaving on peaks of panicked breaths. She looked up. Wild emeralds stared at black shades from peaks of rectangular panes. Crimson lips lifted off of gritted teeth. Hailey exhaled sharp breaths between furious bicuspids. "You remember-- right, Tommy??" Tommy squeezed muffled shrieks into wads of cotton fabric. Hailey sank the point of a butcher's knife into thick flesh below Tommy's breastbone. Hot crimson poured out. Hemoglobin fluid gushed down Tommy's pale skin. It trickled into the crotch of Tommy's denim britches. Tommy screamed into a tube sock blanket. His head tilted back. His eyelids squeezed themselves shut. Tommy battered a stall divider with sapphire spikes poking out of the back of his scalp. Hailey dragged a stainless steel plate to the waist of Tommy's pale blue jeans. A mirror tinted sheet sawed through Tommy's abs and divided his bellybutton. Joe looked down. Terrified irises studied Tommy's hideous gash above Joe's pulsating cheeks. Joe squeezed panicked eyelids together. He smashed the back of his head against a thick, steel plate.

Hailey poked the butcher's knife into thick hide below Tommy's right hand ribs. She hacked a horizontal opening above the gash down Tommy's belly. Tommy's abdominal fluids leaked out. Hailey sawed another gap along the bottom edge of Tommy's abdominal cavity. She forged a capital "I" into the surface of Tommy's stomach. Hailey squeezed leather coated digits between Tommy's belly flaps. She stretched blood soaked meat away from Tommy's bowels. She hacked muscle tissue and ligaments securing Tommy's flesh to his intestines. Tommy's entrails began spilling out. Claret coated digestive tract wound into a spiral below the soles of Tommy's black sneakers. Crimson abdominal fluid poured on top of Tommy's displaced guts.

Hailey lifted cow hide wrapped fingers soaked with Tommy's blood. Trembling digits dressed with wet leather dangled from cuffs of wool sleeves. Hailey's blood stained fingers jiggled like gelatin dessert. Hailey looked into Joe's eyes. She inhaled shaky breaths between quivering lips colored with crimson beeswax. Furious emeralds stared at Joe's irises below points of apricot eyebrows. Hailey squeezed together shaking bicuspids. Hailey's shivering front teeth collided on peaks of panicked wiggles.

"N-Now--" Hailey forced out. Hailey compulsively stroked blood soaked steel emerging from the grip of her butcher's knife. "What was that you said, Joe?" Hailey squeezed claret coated metal between leather wrapped fingers. Hailey swung the butcher's knife in front of half inch buttons securing her wool coat. She aimed the point of a thick blade at punk rock artwork covering Joe's chest. "You said-- you were gonna rip my throat out." Hailey suspended a trembling knife blade in front of Joe's ribs. She inhaled shaky breaths between wiggling her teeth. "Isn't that right, Joe??" Joe stared into Hailey's agitated irises. He inhaled panicked puffs through terrified nostrils. Joe exhaled sock muffled whimpers into saliva drenched footwear. His head tilted back. His eyelids squeezed themselves together. Hailey stared at Joe's terrified face from the canopy of a crimson hood. Apricot eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Hailey's nose. Furious bicuspids squeezed together.

"You know what?" Hailey beckoned. "I'm gonna rip-- your fuckin' thyroid out!" Hailey lifted the butcher's knife beside her face. She rotated her shoulders. She plunged the point of a butcher's knife into the middle of Joe's thick neck. "Grrrrr!!" Hailey snarled. Blood squirted out of Joe's throat. Crimson bodily fluid sprayed like a shaken soda from Joe's trachea. Hailey sawed Joe's neck. She hacked blood soaked meat away from Joe's airway and esophogus. Joe's skull pounded a steel plate covering the bathroom stall. Joe's head went limp. Hailey squeezed leather coated fingers inside Joe's slashed up throat. She crushed butterfly shaped meat with cow hide wrapped digits. She sliced a hunk of claret stained steak away from Joe's neck. Hailey lifted Joe's thyroid in front of gritted teeth. She squeezed a mutilated gland shaped like a moth between shafts of red leather. Hailey exhaled heavy breaths through mashed together incisors. She lifted the kitchen knife beside her shoulder.

"Ah!" Hailey shrieked. She sank the tip of her butcher's knife into a space between Joe's eyes. She repeated. She began stabbing Joe's sagging eyelids. She plunged a sharpened, steel point into Joe's ocean blue irises. She hacked thin flaps coated with long, black lashes. Joe's limp noggin bobbled on the end of his neck due to irrational stabbing. Hailey's arms collapsed beside her ribs. A wad fashioned from Joe's sawed off thyroid gland dropped from the fingers of Hailey's left hand. Leather coated, blood stained digits dangled beside white ruffles surrounding Hailey's hips. Hailey exhaled exhausted puffs from crimson lips. Her head tilted back. Her skull hung from her shoulders.

Hailey hobbled backwards on soles of canvas shoes. She collapsed on her butt. Hailey's tiny hiny sank into a corner between tiles decorating the wall and tiles covering the floor. Hailey's hood covered scalp rested on wall tiles. Hailey's wool wrapped shoulders relaxed on cold porcelain. Hailey heaved through angry, claret red lips. She tightened her face. She gritted her teeth. She flattened a blood soaked fist beside her left hip. She hammered the point of a crimson coated knife between tiny, white tiles.

"Errrr!" Hailey snarled between gritted teeth. Hailey shoved herself to her feet. She dashed across the restroom. She opened the door a crack. She peeked into the hallway.

Travis stared across the classroom. He studied Joe and Tommy's empty lab chairs. He looked at Paul and Vicky. Vicky and Paul stared at Travis over their shoulders. Travis and Jennifer looked into each other's eyes. They looked at Gary and Tate. They nodded. Tate spotted Mr. Craddock. She tossed impatient fingers above crimson red braids hanging from her scalp. She waved her arm, frantically. She fidgeted in her lab chair. Gary watched his girlfriend. He faced Mr. Craddock. He raised his hand. Mr. Craddock sat behind his desk. He was grading papers. He studied Tatum's panicked wiggling. He blinked.

"Um-- yes, Tate?" Mr. Craddock inquired. Mr. Craddock looked into Gary's blue eyes. He nodded. Tate dropped her fingers on her group's lab table. Her pale blue irises stared into Mr. Craddock's cloud shaded eye shutters.

"Mr. Craddockk--" Tate groaned. "I really have to go!"

Gary nodded. "Yeah-- me too." Mr. Craddock squinted. He studied the lab table beside Gary and Tate's.

"You mean-- those two still aren't back yet??" Mr. Craddock demanded. Gary and Tatum shook their heads, impatiently. Mr. Craddock sighed. He pointed above the surface of his desk. "Alright--" Mr. Craddock conceded. "Go." Gary and Tate dropped off of their lab stools. They dashed towards the door. "And if you see Tommy and Joe--" Mr. Craddock added. "You tell them to get their BUTTS back here. Pronto." Gary and Tate nodded. They slipped into the hallway.

"What-- in the fuck is going on?" Tate squeezed through impatient teeth.

"I don't know, baby--" Gary replied, quietly. He searched a long hallway. "We gotta find them. Quick." Tate smacked puffed, tan fabric surrounding Gary's shoulder blade. She pointed towards the end of the hall.

"Gary!" Tate rasped. Gary focused on the boys' restroom. He narrowed his eyes. The bathroom door was open a crack. The lenses of Hailey's glasses reflected points of light. Crimson stained lips scowled along the bottom of Hailey's pale face. Hailey slithered into the boys' shit-house. Gary's fingers squeezed shut around Tate's. Tatum and Gary sprinted to the end of the hallway. They dashed into the restroom.

Joe and Tommy's mangled corpses hung from a thick, steel wall concealing one of the bathroom stalls. They dangled from wrists and ankles tied behind a privacy divider. Joe's limp face sank into his shoulders. Blood poured out of hollowed out eye sockets. Gashes sank into the upper half of Joe's slashed up precipice. Joe's throat was ripped open. Punk rock artwork showing between the opening of Joe's red leather jacket was soaked with blood. Wet crimson poured down wads of baby blue denim surrounding Joe's thighs and calves. Claret dripped from soles of black sneakers.

Tommy looked like a frog in a dissection tray. His abdominal cavity was sliced open. His entrails were stacked below the bottoms of his sneakers. Tommy's colon hung from a horizontal gash above the waist of his jeans. Blood poured out of Tommy's belly. Pale blue denim strapped around Tommy's legs was stained crimson red. Blood continued trickling from the soles of Tommy's white sneakers. Warm claret gushed down white, vinyl insteps. Bodily fluid coated Tommy's discarded bowels like hemoglobin gravy. Tate crushed horrified fingers on top of tomato shaded lips. She dropped to her knees. Wild, blue irises stared above the tips of Tatum's tiny fingers. Tate sucked frigid air between edges of shaking pinkies.

"MMrrrr!!" Tatum shrieked into the surfaces of her palms. Tate's jean covered thighs collapsed on backs of panty hose wrapped calves. Horrified arms wrapped in white sweater sleeves supported freaked out digits squeezed around Tatum's cheeks. Crimson braids surrounded white elastic stretched around Tate's back. Tatum inhaled frosty air between edges of wobbling palms. She exhaled a terrified sob. Arms wrapped in tan jacket sleeves collapsed Gary's fingers along the tops of his disgusted eyes. Gary's cheeks shivered on the surfaces of his palms. Brown strands hanging from Gary's scalp shuffled along tips of nauseated digits. Gary felt like throwing up. He felt the blood draining out of his face. He listened to his girlfriend's mortified shrieks. He was worried he might pass out.

Hailey hovered on toes of white canvas shoes beside the bathroom door. Intersecting ankles wrapped in candy cane stripes disappeared into tennis shoes strapped with crimson bows. Leather fingers hanging from crimson sleeves suspended blood stained billiard socks beside porcelain skirt ruffles. Hailey's colorful face was tilted above her left shoulder. Flame curtains surrounded wild emeralds resting on somber cheeks. Crimson stained lips lifted off of gritted bicuspids. Hailey floated on tips of canvas sneakers. Arms surrounded by blood red wool slung resin sphere stockings in front of Hailey's chest. Hailey bounced billiard balls on Gary and Tatum's skulls. Tate's butt toppled off the heels of her ballerina flats. Tatum flattened on her left shoulder. Gary collapsed on his face.

Hailey stuffed socks into Gary and Tate's mouths. She wound duct tape around their faces. She grabbed a length of rope. She used it to bind Gary's wrists behind his back. She grabbed toes of red sneakers poking out of the bottoms of Gary's navy blue jeans. She folded Gary's legs. She tied Gary's wrists to his ankles. Hailey left for another piece of rope.

Tate's baby blue eyes popped open. Tate screamed into a wadded up tube sock. It sounded like a pitiful groan. Tatum's head was spinning. Tate looked above rows of tiny, white floor tiles. Nimble footsies balanced on toes of white canvas sneakers. Crimson sutures fastened porcelain shoe fabric around slender insteps. Thick, claret bows hopped on collars of busy tennis shoes. Knee length socks decorated with red and white stripes erupted from necks of white sneakers. Candy cane stockings were strapped around Hailey's skinny calves. Tatum watched striped limbs wandering below a canopy of white skirt ruffles. Tate's eyebrows pointed down the bridge of her nose. Tatum extended agitated fingers from ends of white sweater sleeves. Tate's slender digits squeezed shut around Hailey's stripe covered ankles. Tate dragged the soles of Hailey's bouncing feet across surfaces of porcelain tiles. Hailey dropped on her face. She flattened forearms wrapped with crimson wool on top of slick squares.

"Ah!" Hailey shrieked.

Tate rotated Hailey's ankles. She flipped Hailey onto her back. Tatum scrambled on top of Hailey. She straddled Hailey's hips. Knees covered in black nylons crushed the edges of Hailey's trim waist. Hailey's bellybutton showed below the base of her crimson coat. Hailey's pale stomach collapsed on peaks of panicked breaths. Tatum squeezed frantic fingers around silver strands wound behind her neck. Hailey crushed blood soaked digits around Tate's wrists. She attempted to pry Tate's fingers away from tape strapped over her cheeks. Tatum dragged duct tape strips below her chin. She spit a saliva coated tube sock in Hailey's face.

"Ah! Ah! Ahh! Ahh!" Tate breathed through tomato red lips. Tatum forced panicked breaths into her trachea. Wild blueberries stared into Hailey's emerald irises below points of furious eyebrows. Tate tightened enraged biceps. She swung her horrified wrists away from Hailey's leather coated fingers. She squeezed vengeful nightcrawlers around Hailey's throat. "AAAAHH!!" Tatum shrieked. Tate slung Hailey's head like a rag doll's. She pounded Hailey's hood covered scalp on top of tiny floor tiles. Tatum inhaled nails through furious, scowling lips. She glared into Hailey's emerald eye shutters. "AAHH!" Tate shouted in Hailey's face. "You fucking freakk! I'll fucking KILL YOU!!" Hailey attempted to squeeze air into a collapsed trachea. She tilted her head back. She spotted the can of rust remover spray. A plastic lighter rested next to Hailey's blood coated fingers.

Tatum tightened furious fingers around Hailey's neck. She shook with blind rage. Hailey reached above a crimson shroud protecting her skull from Tate's tantrum. Hailey's fingers battered the base of the aerosol can. The rust remover container rolled across porcelain tiles. Hailey tightened frustrated teeth. She squeezed pale abs between edges of nylon covered kneecaps. Tatum tightened her thighs. She crushed her forehead on top of Hailey's. A canopy of crimson braids surrounded Tate and Hailey's faces. Tatum glared into Hailey's emerald irises.

"AAAAAAHH!!" Tate shrieked into Hailey's face. Hailey's leather coated, blood soaked digits converged around the base of a steel can. Hailey snagged the lighter with the fingers of her other hand. Hailey stared into Tatum's furious, baby blue eye shutters. Apricot eyebrows flattened Hailey's emerald irises. Hailey shoved her forehead against Tate's. She forced Tatum's unfocused face away from hers. Hailey struck the lighter in front of the lenses of her glasses. She sprayed anti-rust solution through a tangerine flame. A fireball erupted in Tate's face. Tatum's fingers unclenched from Hailey's neck. Tate shoved herself away from Hailey's colorful precipice. "AAHH!" Tatum barked. Hailey turned her head. She shut her eyes. She fired an aerosol fountain into a butane eruption. A blast like a welding torch flame exploded in Tate's mortified face. Tate's denim wrapped butt fell off of her heels. Tatum shoved herself away from Hailey's candy cane calves with frightened palms. Tate exhaled desperate shrieks on peaks of panicked breaths. "AH! AH! AH! AHH!"

Hailey's crimson wrapped elbows shoved her to her feet. Hailey scrambled after Tate on toes of white, canvas sneakers. Hailey aimed a rust remover torch at Tatum's face. Tate folded arms wrapped in blood soaked sweater sleeves over her face. Rust remover flames turned Tatum's sleeves into ash. Hailey blasted Tate's pale wrists. Tatum's skin blistered and turned black. Tate's scorched flesh smelled like fried chicken. Hailey lifted the torch above the tips of Tatum's panicked fingers. A rust remover flame fountain ignited crimson braids covering Tate's scalp. Tate exhaled shrieks through panicked puffs.

"AHH! AHH! AHH! AHH!!" Tatum collapsed crispy forearms on top of shriveled hair braids. Hailey stomped Tate's blistered arms and fingers. She sank soles of canvas sneakers into the middle of Tatum's face. She chased Tate into a corner beside the bathroom door. She doused Tatum's face and arms in fountains of flames. Tate's upper limbs stopped flailing. Mummified wrists and metatarsals toppled off of Tatum's shriveled precipice. Tatum's terrified skull collapsed on a collar bone surrounded by charred sweater fabric. Eyes like black olives poked out of charred eye sockets. A teardrop shaped hole sank above Tate's lipless gums. Ash soaked saliva leaked out of soot stained teeth. Charcoal ropes hung from Tatum's exposed skull. Hailey stood over Tate's barbecued corpse. She exhaled panicked breaths. She heard sock muffled groaning.

Hailey looked over her shoulder. Gary stared at his girlfriend's blistered carcass from the floor. Wild, blue eyes studied mummified flesh below canopies of horrified eyebrows. Gary laid on his hip. He shifted bound wrists along the small of his back. Gary's shuffling forearms bowed his legs towards the base of his spine. Gary wiggled on surfaces of porcelain tiles like a fish out of water. He exhaled terrified cries into a wadded up tube sock. Hailey stared at Gary's flailing limbs above crimson wool covering her deltoid. She heard water spraying. Hailey looked up. Sprinklers suspended from rectangular tiles blasted the restroom with pressurized liquid. Hailey also heard a siren shrieking. A cycling triangle wave erupted from loudspeakers fastened to ceiling sheetrock. Hailey stared at a plastic grill covering a screeching speaker cone. Defeated emeralds studied tiny holes punched along the surface of a plastic plate.

"Aww, fuckk--" Hailey snarled. Hailey sprinted to her backpack. She scraped up rolls of duct tape, knives, lighters, and strands of rope. She shoved things into her book bag. She threw her tomato red backpack over her shoulders. It was soaked with sprinkler water. The butcher's knife Hailey killed Joe and Tommy with extended from Hailey's frantic fingers. Hailey dropped on her knees in front of Gary's wriggling carcass. Hailey's kneecaps crushed candy cane stripes into a freezing cold puddle. Gary sank into a pool of sprinkler liquid. He exhaled bubbles into floor tile puddles through frustrated nostrils. Hailey's leather wrapped fingers squeezed shut around sopping wet strands hanging from Gary's scalp. Hailey lifted Gary's face off of sprinkler soaked floor tiles. She glared into Gary's pale, blue irises. Hailey's crimson red lips peeled off of gritted teeth. "You're lucky, mother fucker!" Hailey shouted.

Hailey rested a razor sharp plate against Gary's neck. She dragged the blade of a sprinkler spotted butcher's knife across Gary's trachea. Blood sprayed out of Gary's throat. A crimson geyser erupted from a long gash below Gary's jaw. The edge of Hailey's knife sloshed warm claret all over porcelain wall tiles. Hailey dashed out of the boys' room. Frosty sprinkler water poured off of a crimson canopy shrouding Hailey's colorful face. Hailey spotted Travis, Jennifer, Vicky, and Paul. They stood by the door to Mr. Craddock's chemistry class. Travis and his friends' backs faced Hailey.

"Shit!" Hailey squeezed through panicked incisors. Hailey disappeared around the end of the hallway. She hid the butcher's knife between the outer surface of her backpack and brick shaped tiles decorating the wall. Travis looked over his shoulder. He stared at the door to the boy's bathroom. He narrowed his eyes.

"Guys!" Travis shouted. Travis jogged through ice cold fountains spraying the hallway. Jennifer, Paul, and Vicky followed on Travis' heels. Hailey waited for the restroom door to close. She snuck around the corner. She stared at a rectangle of wood covering the boys' room. Apricot eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Hailey's nose. Hailey shook her head. She knew better than to take on four at once. Hailey raced to a set of double doors covering the end of the hallway. She pushed through the right hand door. She glanced over her shoulder. Travis and his friends were nowhere in sight. The hallway was quickly filling up. Hailey was worried she might be spotted. She watched a dark haired girl in a black, leather jacket emerge from Mr. Craddock's chemistry class. It was Wednesday. Hailey didn't realize Wednesday was in Travis and his friends' chemistry class. Wednesday's pale face turned under a blanket of sopping wet licorice. Wednesday's teal irises spotted emerald eye shutters between curtains of flames. Wednesday watched the hallway door shut in front of Hailey's crimson shrouded precipice.

"H-Hailey?" Wednesday squeezed out. A piercing voice pounded Hailey's eardrums. Long, bony fingers squeezed shut around Hailey's sprinkler soaked shoulder.

"I've got you now, Hailey Holloway!" irritated vocal chords squawked. Hailey spun on the balls of her feet. She concealed her kitchen knife behind the surface of her backpack. Hailey stared into crinkled eyes below an amber colored beehive. Ms. Goodwin's agitated face erupted from the collar of a plaid dress with red and yellow checks. Ms. Goodwin lifted scraggly digits falling off of Hailey's shoulder. She slopped frigid sprinkler water off ends of shriveled digits. She pointed between Hailey's emerald irises. "You are not supposed to be here, young lady!" Ms. Goodwin shrieked. Ms. Goodwin folded her arms on top of her chest. She glared into Hailey's emerald eyes. "Let's just see what Principal Roberts has to say about this." Hailey's flame tinted eyebrows pointed down the bridge of her nose. She stared into Ms. Goodwin's furious face. Ms. Goodwin uncrossed her arms. She plopped tight fists on her huge hips. "Don't you give me that look, Hailey," Ms. Goodwin responded. "You were suspended yesterday for fighting." Ms. Goodwin narrowed her piercing eyes. "Or, have we forgotten about that?" Hailey's leather coated fingers squeezed shut around yellow and red plaid covering Ms. Goodwin's chest. Hailey lifted the point of a blood soaked butcher's knife beside her shoulder.

"EAAAAAHH!!" Hailey shouted. Hailey sank the end of her kitchen knife into Ms. Goodwin's stomach. She began shoving a sharpened, steel plate into Ms. Goodwin's bowels. Hailey exhaled desparate grunts on peaks of quick breaths. "ERR! ERR! ERR!!" Blood squirted out of Ms. Goodwin's mangled abs. A crimson fountain poured onto rain drizzled cement. Ms. Goodwin's crinkled eyes squeezed themselves shut. Mr. Goodwin flailed panicked, plaid coated limbs in front of her chest.

"AH! AH! AH!" Ms. Goodwin barked. Hailey lifted a blood coated kitchen knife beside her crimson shrouded face. The sky flashed white. Hailey sank a stainless steel point between Ms. Goodwin's breasts. The blade of Hailey's butcher's knife punctured Ms. Goodwin's heart. Ms. Goodwin's piercing eyes popped open. Ms. Goodwin inhaled a short breath. Hailey's emerald irises studied Ms. Goodwin's wrinkled precipice below points of apricot eyebrows. Hailey swiveled Ms. Goodwin's upper body ninety degrees. She yanked the blade of her kitchen knife out of Ms. Goodwin's cardiac muscle. Claret launched out of Ms. Goodwin's ribs. Ms. Goodwin's heart chambers pumped buckets of blood out of a space between her sagging tits. A hemoglobin sprinkler watered jade green grass next to the sidewalk. Ms. Goodwin's bony fingers squeezed shut around red and black plaid covering her chest. Ms. Goodwin collapsed on the sidewalk. Hailey squeegeed wet crimson coating the blade of her butcher's knife. She disappeared into the parking lot.

Wednesday emerged from the double doors Hailey used. Wednesday looked sickly. Her face was the color of cream cheese. Sopping wet strands the length of Wednesday's chin stuck to her porcelain cheeks. Wednesday's palms collapsed on a long handle fastened to the middle of the door. The door swung away from the school building. Wednesday stumbled out. She shuffled off of a concrete riser beside the double doors. She almost fell on her face. Panicked shouting poured out of the hallway. Students were discovering hacked up bodies in the boys' room near the end of the hall. The door closed behind Wednesday. The noise ceased. Wednesday slung sprinkler water off of wads of black leather surrounding her arms. She looked towards the end of the parking lot. Wednesday's frantic irises watched Hailey's crimson shrouded figure cross a road beside the parking lot. Hailey scampered down sidewalk along the edge of Dora Lane. Wednesday wiggled ruby lips apart. She wanted to scream. But, nothing came out.

The instep of Wednesday's saddle shoe snagged Ms. Goodwin's ankle. A black and white sneaker body poked between a leather maryjane strapped around Ms. Goodwin's foot and a nylon tube surrounding her ankle. Wednesday tripped. Her knees crushed sopping wet polka dots on rain soaked cement. Wednesday's palms flattened on rain drenched concrete.

"Whoa!" Wednesday shrieked. Wednesday looked above sopping wet leather surrounding her shoulder. She studied Ms. Goodwin's blood soaked corpse. Bony shoulders wrapped in red and yellow checks sank into a puddle of blood. Scraggly fingers squeezed shut around a gash between Ms. Goodwin's breasts. A crimson fountain poured out of clenched digits. Ms. Goodwin's beehive hair crushed claret spattered grass blades. Terrified irises stared out of wrinkled eye sockets. Slender eyebrows lifted above Wednesday's irises. Horrified eyelids peeled off of pale, blue shutters. "Ah!" Wednesday shouted. Wednesday slung her arm behind her back. She rolled onto her polka dot covered butt. She rested trembling fingers beside her hips. Wednesday stared at Ms. Goodwin's lifeless carcass. Heavy breaths escaped Wednesday's quivering, ruby lips. "AH! AH! AHH! AHH!!"

Wednesday squeezed fingers coated with black nail polish on top of her shrieking mouth. She whimpered into surfaces of jiggling palms. She sucked panicked puffs between tiny fingers. Wednesday squeezed her eyes shut. She sank ends of wiggling digits into wrinkled eyelids. Hot saline leaked out of Wednesday's eyelids. Wednesday sniffled. She exhaled terrified cries through stretched open lips.

"Ehh! Ehh! Ehh!" Wednesday crushed traumatized fingers on top of her ruby red lips. She looked over her shoulder. She didn't know what to do. She wanted to go after her friend. But, she wasn't sure how she felt about that. Hailey was a murdering psychopath. She slaughtered five people and ran away without any sort of explanation. Wednesday felt betrayed. She also felt confused. She was also in a lot of pain. She needed to talk to her friend. She wanted to scream in her friend's face. She wanted to choke the life out of her. She needed-- to know what the fuck was going on. She figured it had something to do with Travis. But, Hailey didn't bother explaining. So, Wednesday had no way to know for sure. Wednesday's slender eyebrows pointed down the bridge of her nose. Angry, ruby stained lips lifted off of Wednesday's gritted teeth. Wednesday rolled over. Furious fingers shoved Wednesday to her feet. Wednesday situated her blue jean backpack along shoulders wrapped in soaking wet leather. She took off after her friend.




Chapter 16: "The Blame Game"
Table of Contents

Hailey sprinted from Glory High's parking lot to Martin's house. She stood beside oak trees twisting across Martin's front yard. Hailey bent over. She plopped leather wrapped palms on white ruffles covering her knees. Hailey's flame tinted locks hung from an opening along the front of her crimson jacket hood. Hailey panted like a dog under curtains of fire. Her throat was dry. Hailey tossed her backpack on Martin's neighbor's grass. She dropped her gloves inside her book bag. She snagged a bottle of water she purchased the night before. She unscrewed a plastic cap. She plopped a polystyrene container against her lips. Hailey sucked down a third of the bottle's contents. She exhaled a gratified breath. She returned a threaded cap to the end of a plastic container. She listened to echoes of quick feet. She looked beside her. Wednesday dove across sidewalk squares. She crushed arms wrapped in black leather around Hailey's tiny waist. The girls landed on emerald grass blades.

"Aaa!" Hailey shrieked. Wednesday climbed crimson wool surrounding Hailey's trim stomach. She squeezed pale fingers around Hailey's wrists. She secured Hailey's crimson dotted fingers on soft grass surrounding her cheeks. Wednesday glared into Hailey's emerald irises. Wednesday's ruby stained lips lifted off of gritted teeth.

"What-- did you do?!" Wednesday shouted. Wednesday shook Hailey's slanky wrists. "What did you do??!" Hailey stared into her friend's ice tinted eye shutters. She inhaled through crimson mouth edges.

"You-- know what I did," Hailey responded. Wednesday's nose wrinkled. Wednesday stretched disgusted lips off of confused teeth.

"You--!" Wednesday barked. Wednesday exhaled an angry puff through agitated nostrils. She wiggled Hailey's fingers. "W-Why??" Wednesday squeezed out. "Why did you-- do that?!" Hailey stared into Wednesday's teal irises. She sighed.

"You fucking-- know why," Hailey explained. Wednesday exhaled a breath through shaking lips. She studied her friend's glittering eye shutters. Wednesday's eyes crinkled. Slender brows pointed at the outer corners of Wednesday's eye sockets.

"oooooh--" Wednesday groaned. Wednesday squeezed ruby lips together. She tossed Hailey's fingers on rows of soft grass. She sat up. She plopped fingers coated with black nail polish on white polka dots covering her thighs. Wednesday looked into Hailey's eyes. She licked her lips. "They-- tried to kill you, didn't they?" Hailey exhaled a long breath. She closed her eyes. She nodded. Wednesday's face shivered. Hot tears leaked out of the corners of Wednesday's eyes. Wednesday dropped sopping wet sapphires on the surfaces of her palms. She exhaled whimpers on peaks of shallow breaths. "eh-heh eh-heh eh-heh eh-heh--" Hailey supported herself with crimson covered forearms. She reached beside Wednesday's shoulder. She rested gentle fingers on wads of sprinkler drenched leather surrounding her friend's bicep. Wednesday flailed panicked fingers in front of her face. She battered Hailey's digits away from her arm.

"Don't-- touch me!" Wednesday shrieked. Wednesday shook angry fists in front of her chest. "Don't fucking touch me!" Hailey stared into her friend's tear soaked eyes. She dropped her fingers beside the edge of Wednesday's pale calf. Wednesday extended tingling fingers in front of Hailey's jacket buttons. She exhaled a heavy breath through her lips. She inhaled through ruby stained mouth rims. "I feel like I'm gonna be-- sssick--" Wednesday squeezed out. Hailey hugged her neck with her shoulders. She exhaled through crimson coated lips.

"Breathe-- deep," Hailey instructed. "Through your nose--" Wednesday closed her eyes. She inhaled cool air through her nostrils. She exhaled from shaking lips. She repeated. She looked down. Wednesday's fingers dropped beside Hailey's. Wednesday guided wiggling digits on top of Hailey's knuckles. She squeezed jiggling fingers around the edges of Hailey's palms. She shook Hailey's fingers. She breathed in through ruby stained lips.

"Tell me what happenedd--" Wednesday groaned through frosty mouth edges. Hailey studied her friend's painful face. She curled her fingers around Wednesday's. She crushed Wednesday's tiny digits on top of polka dots surrounding her thighs.

"They-- beat the living shit out of me," Hailey explained. Wednesday watched her friend's face below sagging eyelids. She nodded.

"Yeahh--?"

Hailey licked crimson red lips. "They beat me with-- baseball bats-- and, like those-- fluorescent lights?" Wednesday wiggled her head up and down. "They-- tied me up--" Hailey groaned. "They fuckin'-- beat me all over my whole body." Hailey pressed her lips together. She shook her head. "There was so much-- blood. There was-- blood all over everything." Wednesday's face shook on the end of her neck. Tears leaked out of her eyes. "And, then they--" Hailey tilted her head back. She stretched her neck towards Wednesday's face. "They-- tied a noose around my throat. And, they strung me up--" Wednesday studied violet and crimson rings surrounding her friend's neck. Wednesday's quivering lips formed an "o" shape.

"Oh, my-- God," Wednesday remarked. "Haileyy--" Wednesday slipped her fingers away from Hailey's. She rested fingertips decorated with black nail polish on welts surrounding Hailey's neck. Wednesday glided tips of gentle fingers along slender bruises staining Hailey's pale skin. Hailey soaked up soothing strokes from her friend's fingertips. She studied Wednesday's pale irises through panes of glass surrounding the bridge of her nose. She squeezed her claret lips together. Hailey reached up. She closed her fingers around Wednesday's.

"Wednesday," Hailey remarked. She forced a frosty sob to the back of her throat. She inhaled nails through quivering lips. "Wednesdayy--" Hailey groaned. Wednesday's brows flattened her sopping wet eye sockets. Irises like ice searched the lenses of Hailey's glasses.

"Hailey-- what?" Wednesday requisitioned. "What is it??" Hailey squeezed Wednesday's fingers beside her cheeks. Hailey's face tilted forward. Hailey shook with sobs. She inhaled frosty air between clenched teeth. She looked up.

"My-- mom's dead," Hailey groaned. Wednesday's eyes popped open. Slender eyebrows lifted behind her sopping wet bangs.

"W-What??" Wednesday demanded. Hailey squeezed her eyelids together. She exhaled a breath through puffed up cheeks. She looked into Wednesday's eyes. She sucked in frosty air.

"And, Larryy--" Hailey squeezed through a sob. Wednesday's skull sank between her shoulder blades. Her eyelids forced themselves together.

"Oh, nooo--!" Wednesday groaned. Wednesday dropped Hailey's fingers on her chest. She crushed agitated palms on top of sopping wet eye flaps. Wednesday's head shook on the end of her neck. "No-no-no! No-no!" Wednesday's leather wrapped elbows swung side to side with her face. Wednesday's fingers flattened on the surface of her skirt. Wednesday faced polka dots covering her thighs. "Noooo!!" Hailey plopped shaking fingers beside her hips. She rested her skull between her shoulders. She exhaled a frosty breath. Wednesday's fingers crushed Hailey's. "Hailey, no!" Wednesday shouted. "No!!" Wednesday lifted Hailey's quivering digits. She shook them in front of her chest. Hailey stared into Wednesday's tear soaked eyes. Wednesday jiggled her head back and fourth. "Hailey, you didn't kill your mom! Right??"

Hailey shook her head. "Noo--" she groaned. She sighed. "No. L-Larry killed my mom." Wednesday exhaled a heavy breath. She dropped Hailey's fingers on her lap. She tilted her head back. She sucked in panicked puffs. Wednesday exhaled a long breath. She inhaled through tight lips. She breathed out through puffed up cheeks. She plopped quivering fingers on top of her lap. She looked into Hailey's eyes.

"But, you killed Larry-- didn't you??" Hailey exhaled a heavy breath. She stared at Wednesday's pale irises. She shook her head.

"I don't knoww--" Hailey groaned. "I don't even know." Hailey grabbed Wednesday's fingers. She shook them in front of her chest. "It's like-- I was watching myself do those things. Like-- someone else had control of my body?" Wednesday watched her friend's sobbing face. She shook her head. Hailey squeezed quivering lips together. Hot tears leaked out of the corners of her eyes. "L-Larry--" Hailey forced out. "Wednesday-- Larry raped me." Wednesday's pale irises rolled to the tops of her eye sockets. Wednesday exhaled an irritated breath. She closed her eyes and shook her head. Hailey crushed Wednesday's fingers between hers. She wiggled her head. "I-- I don't know if that's the reason Larry killed my mom. But, I think that has something to do with it." Wednesday forced exhausted eyelids apart. She stared into Hailey's emerald irises. She exhaled through her nostrils

"Wednesday night, right?" Hailey gazed into her friend's eyes. She nodded. Wednesday's irises rolled. Her face turned. Wednesday shoved Hailey's fingers into her ribs. "Agggghh--" Wednesday snarled. "Haileyy!" Wednesday's head tilted. Wednesday glared into her friend's emerald irises. "Hailey-- that's why you were so weird at school, yesterday. Right?" Hailey's eyelids sagged. Hailey sighed.

"Yesss--" Wednesday squeezed together irritated fingers in front of her shoulders. She exhaled a heavy breath.

"Hailey, I asked youu--" Wednesday groaned. She shook her clenched fingers. "I fucking ASKED you!" Wednesday's digits collapsed on polka dots covering her lap. "I-- asked--" Wednesday squeezed through sobbing lips. Wednesday exhaled a frozen breath. She sucked in nails through clenched teeth. She lifted limp fingers off of her thighs. She wobbled them beside her biceps. "Why didn't you tellll meee--" Wednesday exhaled through a long whimper.

Hailey exhaled a heavy sigh. She sat up. She coiled exhausted arms around her friend's quivering neck. She squeezed Wednesday's shoulders between wool covered biceps. Wednesday's face collapsed on her friend's shoulder. Hailey felt Wednesday's sopping wet cheeks shaking against her throat. Hailey reached up. She glided ends of gentle fingers down sopping wet strands hanging from the back of Wednesday's scalp. Hailey soothed licorice filaments surrounding her friend's wobbling skull. Hailey dragged the hood of her jacket below her chin. She nuzzled her cheek against Wednesday's temple. She stroked drenched hair strands hanging above Wednesday's neck.

"I'm so sorry, Wednesday--" Hailey purred. Hailey nestled the end of her pale face against the edges of Wednesday's ear. "I should've told you everything." Hailey felt Wednesday jiggling between the canopies of her arms. She sank tight fingertips into soft leather surrounding Wednesday's shoulders. She stroked Wednesday's back. "Concentrate on your breathing, Wednesday," Hailey instructed. "Breathe deepp-- through your nose." Wednesday squeezed frozen air into her nostrils. She exhaled a heavy breath through puffed up cheeks. She repeated the process. Loud rock music echoed along walls of empty houses. It was getting closer. Hailey recognized the artist. It was YKC. Hailey looked above Wednesday's shoulder. She spotted Travis' truck near the horizon.

"Ahhh--" Hailey snarled. "Shit!" Hailey squeezed between her friend's knees. She snatched her backpack off of the grass. She grabbed the water bottle she was using. It rolled beside the edge of the sidewalk when Wednesday tackled Hailey. Hailey dropped her water bottle into her book bag. She threw her backpack around her shoulders. She studied soaking wet bangs stuck to her friend's forehead. "Wednesday if you're gonna come with me-- you gotta hide," Hailey informed her friend. Wednesday's pale, blue irises stared at Hailey's colorful face from canopies of flattened eyebrows. Wednesday inhaled a deep breath through her nose. She exhaled an angry sigh.

Wednesday lifted uncertain fingers beside sprinkler drenched strands stuck to her cheek. Hailey grabbed her friend's apprehensive digits. She dragged Wednesday to her feet. Hailey led Wednesday across Martin's neighbor's yard. The girls crouched behind a set of bushes. They watched Dora Lane through spade shaped leaves. Travis' truck parked in front of Martin's twisted oak trees. Travis and Jennifer hopped out. They stomped through Martin's yard. They climbed wooden stairs. They stood on Martin's pine porch. The sky filled with lightning. The girls watched Travis and Jennifer situate themselves on Martin's porch. Thunder filled the air. Jennifer folded impatient arms wrapped in sprinkler drenched sweater sleeves over her chest.

"This is fuckin' bullshit," Jennifer barked. "How can that little bitch still be alive?" Travis strapped arms wrapped in black leather around his girlfriend's waist. Travis and Jennifer watched the road.

"We're gonna get that little fuck," Travis responded. "We're gonna make her suffer." Vicky's Station Cruiser pulled up. It jumped the edge of a curb. It skidded onto Martin's driveway. It almost drove into Martin's house. Vicky squalled her car's tires, stopping it. She shoved a shifter behind her steering wheel towards the ceiling. She kicked her door open. She stumbled out. She dropped to her knees on concrete leading to the edge of Martin's house.

"Eh-heh--" Vicky bawled. "Ehh-hehh-hehh-hehh--" Paul kicked Vicky's passenger door out of his way. He tossed arms wrapped in sleeves of a black hoodie beside his shoulders. He stomped towards the front end of Vicky's car. Lenses of blue shades studied Travis and Jennifer's faces.

"What the fuck just happened??" Paul snapped. Travis and his girlfriend did not respond. Paul wandered around the front end of Vicky's Station Cruiser. He dropped to his knees beside Vicky's driver's side door. Vicky threw arms wrapped in white sweater sleeves around Paul's neck. Vicky's head collapsed on Paul's shoulder. Vicky shook with sobs.

"Eh-heh heh-heh-heh--" Vicky cried. Paul nuzzled long, brown hair hanging down the back of Vicky's scalp. He soothed Vicky's shoulders.

"I can't fucking believe you did this, Hailey--" Wednesday grumbled in a whisper. Wednesday stared below sopping wet bangs. Slender eyebrows lifted above Wednesday's eye sockets. "Are you gonna fuckin'-- kill all of them, too??" Hailey studied her friend's pale cheeks. She licked crimson stained lips.

"I don't know, Wednesday," Hailey whispered back. "M-My plan was ruined the moment that fire alarm went off." Wednesday lifted ruby red lips off of clenched teeth.

"What about ME?" Wednesday rasped. Wednesday looked beside her. She stared into Hailey's emerald irises. "Are you gonna kill me, too??" Hailey studied her friend's furious eye shutters. Claret lips separated along the bottom edge of Hailey's pale face. Hailey exhaled an uneasy breath. Vicky's driver's side door closed. Paul led Vicky in front of her radiator. Paul's fingers surrounded Vicky's shaking shoulders. Vicky and Paul climbed steps leading to Martin's porch. Vicky wrestled furious biceps away from Paul's gentle digits.

"God damn you, Travis!" Vicky shouted. "She killed Tommy-y-y!" Vicky bawled. "She fucking killed him!" Vicky dropped to her knees. She buried her sobbing face in her palms. Paul knelt down beside Vicky. He squeezed his arms around Vicky's shivering neck. Jennifer kneeled in front of her crying friend. She slid ginger fingers down chocolate strands hanging from Vicky's scalp. Travis shook angry fingers in front of his shoulders.

"Ohh--" Travis groaned. "Well, fuck! I guess this shit's all my fault! Huh??" Paul looked up. Octagonal sapphires studied Travis' cornflower irises. It was shocking how self centered Paul's friend could be sometimes. Travis stared into the lenses of Paul's shades. He smirked. Vicky slung tear soaked fingers off of her eyes. She shoved Jennifer's gentle digits away. She snaked out of Paul's arms. Vicky's dark brown irises glared at Travis' smirking face below points of angry eyebrows. Vicky stepped towards Travis. She pointed between Travis' eyes.

"You wanna talk about who's fault this is??" Vicky squeezed through irritated teeth. "Why don't we talk about that, Travis?!" Vicky stood in front of Travis. The toes of Vicky's cherry red flats pointed at the tips of Travis' black boots. Vicky glared into Travis' cornflower irises. "Why did we have to kill her, Travis?!" Vicky shrieked. Paul grabbed Vicky's fingers.

"Vicky-- Vicky--" Paul warned. Vicky yanked angry digits away from Paul's. She raised her palms beside her shoulders.

"Why did we have to kill her!?!" Travis' face turned into stone. Cold irises stared below flattened eyebrows. Irritated lips closed in front of solemn teeth. Travis smacked Vicky's sopping wet cheek. Bones poking out of Travis' palm crashed into soft skin covering the edge of Vicky's face. Vicky collided with slick boards covering the floor of Martin's porch. The lenses of Paul's shades faced Travis' cornflower irises. Paul stepped over denim bells surrounding Vicky's calves. Travis pointed at the trunk of Vicky's turtleneck. He stared into sapphire lenses concealing Paul's eye shutters. A smug smirk creased Travis' cheek.

"You need to control your bitch," Travis ordered. Paul's lanky fingers squeezed shut around wads of leather hanging from Travis' shoulders. Paul shoved Travis against crimson bricks forming the skin of Martin's house. Travis extended an arm wrapped in wads of black leather. His thick fingers squeezed shut around sprinkler soaked strands stuck to Paul's cheeks. "Motha fucker--" Travis grunted. "Paul!" Paul stared into Travis' eyes. He lifted tight lips off of clenched incisors.

"If it wasn't for your bitch--" Paul snarled. "Then, we wouldn't be in this mess right now." Travis popped Paul in the cheek with tightened knuckles. Paul kicked Travis' legs sideways. He used Travis' leather jacket like a harness. He slammed Travis on the surface of Martin's pine deck. Travis' cow hide wrapped shoulder blades collapsed on thick boards. Soles of black boots dropped on planks of slick wood. Travis' head tilted back. Travis arched his back.

"oooohh--" Travis groaned. He sucked a painful breath through his teeth. "aaoooohh--"

Jennifer's angry fingers shoved Paul's ribs. "Damn it-- Paul!" Jennifer barked. Jennifer dropped beside her boyfriend. She surrounded Travis' shoulders with arms wrapped in pastel sweater sleeves. Martin's car parked behind Vicky's Station Cruiser. It was a 1980 Cutler. Martin's vehicle had a flat, steel body. Sections of molded, automotive metal were painted white. Martin stomped out of his Cutler. He slammed a heavy door against a steel frame. He shook angry fingers in front of crimson silk surrounding his biceps.

"What-- the fuck is going on!?!" Martin demanded. Snakeskin boots carried Martin's trouser wrapped legs across a concrete parking area. "I thought you guys took care of this, already!" Martin stood next to pine planks fastened beside the front door of his house. He pointed at Paul's hoodie with the fingers of his right hand. "Isn't that right, Paul?!" Paul sat near the edge of Martin's porch. His arms surrounded Vicky's shoulders. He snuggled Vicky on top of his chest. He stared at Martin's agitated face through lenses the color of glass cleaner. Wednesday looked beside her. Confused sapphires studied Hailey's pale cheeks.

"He knows-- what they did to you??" Wednesday whispered. Hailey gazed into her friend's teal irises. She looked at Martin's porch.

"I guess so," Hailey quietly replied.

"Who is that guy?" Wednesday demanded in a whisper.

Hailey faced Wednesday. "That's Vicky's dad," she explained. Martin ripped tan shades off of his face. He dropped them in a pocket fastened to the left breast of his shirt. He stomped up stairs leading to his porch. Jennifer sat beside Travis. Jennifer's strawberry coated arms surrounded her boyfriend's sprinkler soaked chest. Martin stared into Travis' cornflower irises. He raised his palms in front of his hips.

"Why did you do this??" Martin demanded. Travis rolled his eyes. Disgusted lips lifted off of his teeth.

"Aww, mann--" Travis groaned. He looked away from Martin and shook his head. "Why does that matter??" Martin lifted a foot wrapped in red and white snake beads. He sank the sole of his boot into Travis' stomach.

"Why--?" Martin grumbled. He stomped Travis' ribs. "The fuck--?" Martin began kicking Travis' legs. "Did-- you-- do it!?!"

"Ahhh--" Travis snarled. "Motha fucker!!" Jennifer squeezed Travis' ribs between her biceps. Jennifer's pale, blue irises glared at Martin between strands of sprinkler soaked chocolate.

"Martin!!" Jennifer shrieked. "Stop it!" Martin bent over. He battered Jennifer's cheek with the fingers of his right hand.

"SHUT-up!" Martin belched. Vicky squeezed her eyes shut. She shook horrified fists in front of her cheeks.

"Jesus!" Vicky shouted. "Dad!" Wednesday looked beside her. Wild sapphires stared into Hailey's emerald irises. Wednesday inhaled a troubled breath through her ruby lips.

"What the fuck-- am I watching right now??" Wednesday rasped. Wednesday shook frantic fingers in front of her chest. "Who are these people!?" Hailey's fingers squeezed shut around her friend's. Hailey stared at Martin's porch. She squeezed crimson mouth edges together.

"You should've never come here, Wednesday," Hailey whispered back.

"Fuckk you--" Wednesday squeezed between clenched teeth.

"Maybe you should just-- leave me here," Hailey said quietly.

Wednesday jiggled Hailey's fingers. "Hailey, don't-- tempt me!" Wednesday rasped. Hailey faced her friend. Wednesday's icy irises stared below points of angry eyebrows. Hailey shook her friend's agitated digits.

"I'm so sorry I got you involved in this," Hailey whispered.

Wednesday rolled pale eye shutters. "Oh, fuckk--" Wednesday snarled. Wednesday faced Martin's porch. She shook her head. Hailey brushed the ends of Wednesday's knuckles with her thumb. Wednesday shoved her friend's gentle digits away. "Don't-- fuckin' touch me!" Wednesday snapped.

Martin raised his palms in front of his shoulders. "Joe, Tommy--" Martin snarled. "Gary-- and Tate?" Martin dropped angry fingers beside his hips. He stared at Travis' dejected face. "All four of them??" Vicky sat up. She rested a hiny wrapped in black denim on top of Paul's lap. Her eyes wrinkled shut. Vicky dropped trembling cheeks on the surfaces of her palms.

"eh-heh-- eh-heh-eh-heh--" Vicky bawled.

Martin wobbled angry fists in front of his chest. "All-- four of them??" he repeated. Travis looked into Martin's eyes. Bushy eyebrows lifted above Travis' cornflower irises.

"Yess-- Martin," Travis snarled.

Martin kicked Travis' legs. "And-- for-- what!??" Martin sank the toe of his boot into Travis' hip.

Travis glared at Martin above wads of leather covering his shoulder. "She attacked Jennifer!" Travis shouted. Martin looked beside Travis. Jennifer's angry face stared back. One of Jennifer's eyes was partially swollen shut. Martin lifted his foot. He popped Jennifer in the forehead with the heel of his snakeskin boot.

"Oh!" Jennifer shrieked. Jennifer collapsed beside her boyfriend. She folded carnation wrapped arms over her face. Travis shuffled next to his girlfriend. He wrapped his arms around Jennifer's shoulders. He looked up. Martin raised sarcastic palms beside his biceps.

"You gonna fuckin' kill me, dipshit?" Martin demanded. Travis stared into Martin's dark eye shutters. He pointed frustrated eyes at his lap. Martin looked around. He plopped his fingers on his hips. "Who is this girl?" Martin demanded.

Vicky sucked in a frosty breath. "Her name is Hailey--" Vicky forced through trembling lips. Vicky looked into her father's eyes. "She's in my English class." Martin squinted. Long, crow's feet extended from the corners of Martin's chocolate brown eyes.

"That little-- red headed girl?" Martin inquired. Vicky and Paul nodded. Martin swiveled on toes of snakeskin boots. He grazed pepper colored strands poking out of his scalp. He stared into his daughter's chocolate irises. He wrinkled the edges of his eye sockets. "That-- tiny little thing??" Vicky gazed into her father's eyes. Martin studied blue lenses covering Paul's eyes. Paul stared back. He shrugged. Martin raised confused palms beside his hips. He looked around. "She's-- just a sweet little thing!" Martin shouted. He pointed his fingers at crimson fabric covering his chest. "I was-- just talking to her yesterday morning. I--" Martin crinkled his eyes. "Reallyy??" Paul studied Martin's wrinkled face. He nodded.

"That-- tiny, sweet, innocent little thing did allll this," Paul explained. Martin stared at slick boards covering the floor of his porch. He stroked his chin. He shook his head.

"You just-- don't know what some people are capable of. Jesus--" Wednesday's head turned. She stared at her friend's pale face. Points of angry eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Wednesday's nose. Hailey studied Wednesday's irritated precipice. She inhaled through her nostrils. She exhaled a nervous breath. Martin shook his fingers in front of his hips. "Can someone tell me her last name?" Martin looked around. Blank irises stared back. Martin looked into Travis' cornflower eye shutters. He studied the lenses of Paul's blue shades. "None of you dumb-asses know her last name?" Martin requisitioned. Paul shook his fingers in front of his shoulders. He inhaled a breath.

"I know it--" Paul groaned. He plopped frustrated digits on Vicky's shoulders. "But, I can't-- think of it." Martin folded his arms over his chest. He looked around.

"No wonder she wants to kill you." Martin studied his daughter's face. He licked his lips. "Vicky-- go get your yearbook," he instructed. Vicky collapsed on Paul's ribs. Paul's arms folded on top of Vicky's chest.

"You never got me one last year--" Vicky snapped. Martin nodded. He looked around.

"Does anybody have their yearbook from last year?"

"Was she even at our school last year?" Travis inquired.

"I wasn't IN high school, yet," Hailey whispered from the bushes. Vicky stared into space. She shook her head.

"She's so young," Vicky responded. "I don't know. I don't remember her."

"I have my yearbook from last semester," Paul explained. Everyone faced Paul. Paul looked beside him. He glided scrawny digits through sopping, brunette strands hanging from the back of his head. "It's-- in my room, somewhere."

Martin pointed the fingers of his right hand at Paul's face. "Well-- fuck it," Martin responded. "We need to go find it. We need to know her last name." Martin folded his arms over his chest. "I mean-- how else are we gonna find her?" Martin looked at Travis. "You and Jennifer follow us in your truck," Martin instructed. Martin stared at Paul's blue shades. "You and Vicky ride with me." Martin pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "Park the Station Cruiser in the garage, Vicky." Vicky shoved shaking fingers into the pocket of her jeans. She yanked keys out of a denim hoop sutured to the waist of her bell bottoms.

Wednesday studied her friend's colorful face. "They're gonna come looking for you," Wednesday whispered.

Hailey gazed into Wednesday's pale, blue irises. "Big surprise," she quietly replied. Wednesday folded arms wrapped in black leather over her chest. She studied her friend's emerald eye shutters.

"Let me see what they did you--" Wednesday squeezed out of quivering lips. Hailey rolled wool tubes to her elbows. He showed Wednesday the inner surfaces of her forearms. Wednesday studied her friend's pale flesh. She curled her tiny fingers around Hailey's. She lifted Hailey's wrist in front of her face. She studied teensy lacerations decorating her friend's soft skin. Wednesday's pupils followed red and violet rings surrounding the end of Hailey's arm. Wednesday suspended Hailey's fingers above her lap. She glided fingertips decorated with black nail polish along tiny cuts surrounding Hailey's forearm. Wednesday looked into Hailey's eyes.

"Show me more." Hailey slipped her fingers away from Wednesday's. She reached below the bottom of her coat. She lifted wool fabric above her waist. Wednesday sat on her knees. She bent over. She studied bat shaped welts coating Hailey's pale belly flesh. Wednesday sank curious digits into bruised skin. She stroked Hailey's trim stomach. Wednesday sighed. "God damn it, Hailey--" she squeezed out. She looked up. Angry eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Wednesday's nose. "Why didn't you call me?" Wednesday whispered. Hailey stared into her friend's irritated face. She shook her head.

"I don't know, Wednesday," Hailey whispered. Wednesday studied her friend's battered waistline. She exhaled an impatient sigh. "Did you call ME?" Hailey asked.

"Yesss--" Wednesday hissed through clenched teeth. Wednesday looked up. "I called you--" Wednesday said quietly. "And, I called you--" Wednesday watched black dotted fingertips gliding over the surface of Hailey's stomach. She shook her head. "And you didn't answer, Hailey." Hailey's head tilted back. Emeralds floated to the tops of Hailey's eye sockets. Hailey sighed. "Again!" Wednesday snarled through squeezed together incisors. Vicky stood beside her father. Martin rolled down a bay door. Vicky's car was stashed inside her dad's garage. Vicky and Martin wandered beside the Cutler.

"Hey, Dadd--" Vicky exhaled through sobbing lips.

"What's that, sweetie?" Martin inquired. Vicky watched her father open the Cutler's front, driver's side door. He reached behind the front seat. He unlocked the rear, driver's door.

"Couldn't we just-- call the police?" Vicky asked. Martin gazed into his daughter's eyes. He switched his lips to the left edge of his face.

"That's actually a really good question," Martin admitted. "I mean-- she did kill five people." Martin licked his lips. "One of them was a school faculty member." Martin looked at concrete between the toes of his snakeskin boots. He stroked his chin. "As far as I know-- there's nothing to indicate that we did anything to her." Vicky curled shaking digits underneath a chrome handle. She opened the back, passenger door. She stared into her dad's chocolate irises.

"We're not going to, though," Vicky remarked. "Are we?" Martin looked at the tops of his eye sockets. He tilted his head.

"Well, Vicky--" Martin responded. "If they start asking questions about us--" Vicky lifted her fingers beside her cheeks. She showed Martin her palms.

"Right! Right!" Vicky snarled. "I fucking know!" Vicky sighed. She climbed into the back seat of her dad's Cutler. She closed the door. She unlocked a door beside the opposite end of the rear bench. Paul opened the rear, passenger's door and climbed in. Martin backed out of his driveway. He headed towards Paul's house. Travis and Jennifer followed in Travis' earsplitting pickup. Hailey and Wednesday emerged from a space between Martin's neighbor's bushes and bricks covering a bedroom wall. Hailey walked to the end of Martin's neighbor's yard. She looked around.

"I think it's safe, Wednesday," Hailey remarked. Hailey began walking east. Wednesday watched her friend wander down a row of sidewalk. She lifted her palms. She shook confused fingers in front of soaking wet leather surrounding her biceps.

"W-Wait--" Wednesday called. "Where are you going?" Hailey collected the hood of her jacket around her colorful face. She looked over her shoulder. She gazed at Wednesday below the canopy of a crimson shroud.

"I'm going home," Hailey explained. Wednesday suspended perplexed digits in front of her chest. She watched Hailey's red backpack bouncing against her spine.

"Youu--" Wednesday squeezed out. "You're going--?" Wednesday stared into space. Pitch black eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Wednesday's nose. "Whoa! Whoa!" Wednesday sprinted down the sidewalk. "Hold on a minute!" Wednesday hobbled beside her friend. "Haileyy!" she shouted. She grabbed crimson wool surrounding Hailey's bicep. Hailey stopped walking. She looked beside her. Wednesday stared into emeralds behind her friend's glasses. The bridge of Wednesday's nose wrinkled. "What do you mean-- you're going home? Hailey, you can't go home. They're looking for you!"

Hailey raised her palms in front of her shoulders. "They're-- gonna be looking for me no matter what I do," Hailey explained. "There's nothing I can do about that--"

"No, but--" Wednesday interrupted.

"And that's because they know-- that I'm alive, now." Hailey gazed into her friend's teal irises. "You see what I mean? I had one chance to get them before they knew that I was really alive. And, noww--"

"Noooo--" Wednesday whined. Wednesday squeezed frustrated fingers around Hailey's. She shook Hailey's crimson dotted digits. "No, no, noo--" Hailey's apricot eyebrows lifted above her emerald irises. Hailey tilted her head. She studied Wednesday's pale, blue eye shutters. Wednesday stared into Hailey's eyes. She exhaled an irritated breath. "Hailey-- come with me. Come over to my house."

Hailey shook her head. "No," she responded. "I'm going home." Hailey lifted her left foot. Wednesday tugged Hailey's fingers.

"Haileyy!" Wednesday shouted. "That's stupid! Nooo!!" Hailey rolled emerald irises. She looked into Wednesday's eyes.

"I don't give fuck!" Hailey responded. Apricot eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Hailey's nose. "I'm going home!" Wednesday glared into her friend's emerald eye shutters. Her ruby lips lifted off of gritted teeth. Wednesday shoved Hailey's fingers against white ruffles surrounding her hip.

"Well-- fuck you, then!" Wednesday shouted. Hailey gazed into her friend's pale, blue irises. She flattened apricot eyebrows. She tilted her head. Hailey rolled her eyes. She shook her head. She sighed. She faced forward. She continued wandering along the edge of Dora Lane. Wednesday's biceps flattened on top of her ribs. She watched her friend's candy cane legs carrying her across squares of concrete. Wednesday's skull collapsed between her shoulder blades. She exhaled an exhausted breath. "arrGGGH!" Wednesday snarled. She hurried after her friend. Wednesday sprinted in front of Hailey. She walked backwards. She stared into Hailey's emerald eye shutters. Hailey stopped. Wednesday's teal irises studied Hailey's colorful face below points of angry eyebrows. Wednesday wrung nervous fingers in front of her stomach.

"God damn you, Hailey--" Wednesday snapped. Wednesday wrapped her arms around Hailey's shoulders. She squeezed her friend's chest against hers. Hailey crushed crimson coated biceps around Wednesday's neck. She nuzzled her cheek against Wednesday's.

"I'm listening, Wednesday," Hailey remarked.

"Grrrr--" Wednesday snarled. "Fuck it. I'm going with you."

Hailey's eyebrows lifted above her eye sockets. "Now, that's stupid."

Wednesday lifted her chin off of Hailey's shoulder. "Well--" she groaned. She glared into Hailey's emerald irises. "You're going!" Hailey glided ends of crimson fingernails along wads of black leather hanging from Wednesday's shoulder. She nodded.

"I am." Hailey let go of Wednesday's neck. Wednesday stopped hugging Hailey's shoulders. She shook angry fists in front of her chest. She peeled ruby stained lips off of gritted teeth.

"Gyad!" Wednesday snarled. "I am so-- pissed at you right now! You fuck!" Wednesday glared into Hailey's emerald eyes. She exhaled through her nostrils. She reached up. "Can you at least-- take this-- fucking thing off??" Wednesday reached up. She dragged Hailey's hood down curtains of flames hanging from her scalp. She situated crimson wool around Hailey's neck. Hailey's claret stained lips formed a smile. Hailey shrugged.

"Why does that bother you so much?"

Wednesday wiggled furious fingers in front of her chest. "Because you look fucking-- terrifying!" Wednesday shouted back. Hailey studied her friend's furious face. She shrugged.

"Okay," Hailey responded. She reached beside her friend's tear soaked cheek. She dragged ends of crimson spotted fingertips down pitch black strands hanging from Wednesday's scalp. She stroked Wednesday's damp, chin length hair. Hailey squeezed her fingers around Wednesday's. She began walking. Wednesday turned around. She walked beside her friend. She adjusted blue jean straps suspending her backpack from her leather wrapped shoulders.

"Mother-- fucker!" Wednesday barked. "This is so stupid!" Wednesday exhaled furious breaths. She panted like a dog. She shoved irritated fingers into the pocket of her coat. "I need a-- fuckin' cigarette."




Chapter 17: "Hailey's House"
Table of Contents

A plastic clock hung from the southern wall of Hailey's kitchen. It was shaped like a cartoon cat. The kitty had black limbs and a white stomach. Huge, cartoon eyes swiveled left to right. A long, black tail swooped back and forth between the kitty's legs. Decimal digits were arranged along the circumference of the cartoon cat's white tummy. An hour hand pointed at the number "11". A minute hand pointed at a space between the clock's "1" and "2" identifiers. Hailey's storm door eased into its frame-- instead of flopping against the house. Wednesday looked around. The kitchen table, floor, and countertops were barren and clean. The living room carpet was nice and fluffy. There were no pizza boxes, beer bottles, or cigarette butts. The living room television was dust free. Wood veneer used to construct the television's frame was clean and shiny. The house smelled like lavender. The living room coffee table still looked like shit. But, Hailey cleaned it with wood restoring spray. Wednesday studied the front end of Hailey's home below canopies of flattened eyebrows.

"Your house is looking nice," she remarked. "I don't think I've ever seen it this clean." Hailey closed the front door. She wandered next to her friend. She squeezed crimson wrapped arms around Wednesday's shoulders. Wednesday's head poked out of Hailey's biceps. Wednesday wrapped her arms around Hailey's chest. Wednesday rested her exhausted face on wool hanging from Hailey's shoulder. She exhaled a shaky breath. "Haileyy--" Wednesday grumbled.

Hailey inhaled a frosty breath. "Oh, Wednesdayy--" Hailey groaned. "You shouldn't have come here." Hailey licked claret stained lips. "There's no telling what those guys are gonna do."

Wednesday blew a sarcastic breath through her ruby lips. "Oh, jeezz--" Wednesday snarled. Wednesday unraveled her arms from Hailey's ribs. Hailey let go of her friend's shoulders. Wednesday yanked blue jean straps off of her shoulders. "Not like you gave me MUCH CHOICE!" Wednesday barked. Wednesday dangled her blue jean backpack in front of Hailey's eyes. "You fuck!" Wednesday dropped her book bag on the carpet. She glared into Hailey's emerald irises. "I've gotta take-- a fucking piss." Wednesday lifted her left foot. She rested it on top of her knee. She unraveled suede shoe laces. She slipped her saddle shoe off of her sopping wet foot. She tossed it beside the front door. Wednesday rolled a silk sock down her instep and over her toes. She dangled a sprinkler soaked stocking in front of the lenses of Hailey's glasses.

"Also your fault--" Wednesday snapped. Wednesday dropped her dripping wet sock on top of her shoe. She plopped down stubby digits decorated with black nail polish beside the sole of her right shoe. She unfastened her opposing foot protecter. She tossed it next to the front door. Wednesday lifted her right foot behind her back. The ends of Wednesday's furious fingertips pinched the toe of her dampened sock. Wednesday shriveled her face like a prune. She tugged the end of a silk bag strapped around her foot. She grunted through clenched teeth. "arrgghh--" Wednesday yanked the toe of her sock. She lost her balance. "Whoa!" Wednesday shrieked. "Shit!" Wednesday toppled into Hailey's arms. Hailey shifted her friend's weight towards her heels. Wednesday scrambled away from Hailey's helpful fingers.

"No-- I got it!" Wednesday barked. Wednesday's teal irises stared at Hailey's emerald eyes below points of angry eyebrows. Wednesday exhaled impatient puffs through her tiny nostrils. She turned around. She sighed. She lifted her foot. Hailey sank fingertips decorated with crimson acrylic between sopping wet silk and Wednesday's ankle. Hailey dragged Wednesday's sock over her heel. She eased it off of Wednesday's toes. She tossed it beside Wednesday's shoes. Wednesday glanced at Hailey above her shoulder. "Thanks--" she grumbled. Wednesday stomped across carpet coating the hallway floor. She slammed the bathroom door. Hailey dropped her backpack beside Wednesday's. The girls' book bags were both drenched from sprinkler spray.

Hailey wandered into her bedroom. She turned on the light. She sat along the edge of her bed. Hailey's tiny butt compressed white skirt ruffles on black and yellow checks. Hailey stared into her closet. Emeralds studied vertical planks through rectangular panes surrounding the bridge of Hailey's nose. Hailey heard a commode flushing. She looked beside the edge of her closet. Wednesday wandered in. Soles of soft feet carried Wednesday onto checkered tiles beside the entrance to Hailey's room. Pale calves poking out of Wednesday's polka dot skirt parked beside Hailey's closet. Wednesday's tiny fingers gripped leather surrounding her shoulder. Wednesday rested her bicep against painted sheetrock next to Hailey's garment storage area. Pale, blue irises stared below ends of coal colored bangs. Jet black curtains framed Wednesday's heart shaped face. Ruby red lips exhaled a mournful sigh.

Wednesday glided across black and white squares. She sat next to her friend. She looked beside her. She studied flames surrounding Hailey's pale cheeks. Hailey's head turned. Emeralds wandered to the corners of Hailey's eyes. Sparkling irises studied Wednesday's somber precipice. Wednesday stared back. She shifted her weight to the right edge of her body. Wednesday tilted on a polka dot wrapped cheek. Her shoulder collapsed on white ruffles covering Hailey's lap. Wednesday lifted her feet above the end of Hailey's bed. She rested aching legs on yellow and black checks the size of floor tiles. Wednesday dragged heels and insteps across a wool blanket. She sank toes dotted with black acrylic into plaid puffs. Hailey looked at her lap. She smiled. She glided fingertips spotted with crimson nail polish along pitch black strands sprouting from Wednesday's scalp. Wednesday closed her eyes. She exhaled a gratified breath.

"I'm sorry I was-- being such a bitch when we came in," Wednesday remarked.

Hailey inhaled a breath through crimson stained lips. "I think you're entitled." Wednesday exhaled a breath through smiling mouth edges. She looked up. She studied Hailey's jawline from her lap.

"I don't know how long it'll be before I can--" Wednesday studied emeralds behind the lenses of her friend's glasses. She shook her head. She stared into Hailey's closet. "I don't know if I'll ever get over this." Hailey stroked Wednesday's chin length locks. Wednesday lifted her fingers. Wednesday's pale digits rested on red and white stripes stretched below Hailey's knee. Hailey's socks were soaked. "Mmm--" Wednesday groaned. She dragged nails coated with black acrylic down striped stockings covering Hailey's shin.

"Hailey, pick your foot up," Wednesday instructed. Hailey straightened a candy cane calf in front of Wednesday's face. Wednesday unfastened a crimson knot strapping Hailey's canvas sneaker around her foot. She dragged Hailey's tennis shoe over her heel. She lifted it off of her striped foot. Wednesday forced her thumb between an elastic neck below Hailey's kneecap. She dragged Hailey's sopping wet stocking down her lower leg. Striped cotton wadded around Hailey's ankle. Wednesday stretched Hailey's sock over her heel and down her instep. She unrolled a wadded up stocking. She dangled it over the edge of Hailey's quilt covered mattress. Wednesday took off Hailey's other shoe. She hurled it into her closet. She dragged Hailey's sock to her heel. She rolled a striped foot cover off of tiny toes decorated with crimson nail polish. Wednesday studied her friend's calves. Welts shaped like tips of aluminum sluggers stained Hailey's pale flesh. Tiny cuts from broken glass surrounded the lower halves of Hailey's legs. Wednesday glided gentle fingertips down columns of soft skin surrounding Hailey's shin. She looked up.

"Show me all your bruises," Wednesday instructed. "I need to see what those ass-holes did to you."

Hailey inhaled a breath through claret stained lips. "Fuck thatt--" Hailey groaned. "Can we lay down for a little while?" Wednesday rolled onto her back. She rested her fingers beside white polka dots decorating her crimson skirt.

"Surre--" Wednesday purred. Wednesday tightened her biceps. Tiny fingers squeezing quilt checkers lifted Wednesday's shoulders off of Hailey's lap. Wednesday unzipped her jacket. She forced tubes of black leather down silk sleeves covering her arms. Wednesday wore a white dress shirt that buttoned down the front. Hailey shuffled out of her red, wool coat. She tossed it into her closet. Wednesday chunked her jacket on top.

Hailey scooched her stuffed kitty off of a black sham covering her pillow. She laid across yellow and black plaid spread across the surface of her bed. She sank a head full of flames into a charcoal coated pillow. Wednesday snuggled next to her friend. Hailey surrounded Wednesday's shoulders with cream colored biceps extending from the sleeves of her red blouse. Hailey tightened her arms around Wednesday's silk covered shoulders. Wednesday nestled her face next to Hailey's neck. Wednesday's cheek collapsed on Hailey's collar bone. Hailey detected long breaths escaping her friend's nostrils. Puffs of warm air soothed slender bruises surrounding the base of Hailey's neck. Hailey closed her eyes.

Snare drum crashes alternating with bass drum thumps tapped Hailey's eardrums. A black metal vocalist shrieked like a wild animal. Rapid guitar chord pumps played on peaks of snare strikes. Hailey's eyelids uncovered her emerald irises. Hailey looked towards her closet. Wednesday stood beside Hailey's night table. Blades of Sloth erupted from Hailey's CD player speakers. Wednesday glanced at Hailey's colorful face. Her ruby lips formed a smile. Wednesday turned a plastic knob poking out of Hailey's radio. Black metal power chords rattled Hailey's bedroom wall. Hailey slid her fingers beside her ribs. She supported herself with her elbows. She gazed into her friend's pale, blue irises. She smiled. Wednesday turned down the volume. She pointed at Hailey's chest.

"Take off your shirt," Wednesday instructed. Hailey looked towards the ceiling. A wooden clock with Roman numerals hung above Hailey's Einstein poster. The clock read "11:36". Hailey looked into her friend's eyes. She licked crimson coated lips.

"This took a weird turn," Hailey responded. Hailey sat up. She dragged the body of her crimson blouse over her head. She slid the neck of her shirt down flame tinted strands growing out of her scalp. Bra cups made of claret red lace secured Hailey's tiny tits on top of her ribs. Ruffled, red straps hung from Hailey's pale shoulders. Welts the color of plum juice stained Hailey's cream shaded biceps. Wednesday climbed onto Hailey's mattress. She sat on her knees behind her friend's undressed spine. Wednesday's gentle digits caressed egg plant blotches between Hailey's shoulder blades. Wednesday soothed tempered glass slices the size of jasmine rice. She glided fingertips decorated with spots of black nail polish along edges of crimson and violet welts. Hailey tilted her head back. She closed her eyes. She exhaled a gratified breath.

"That feels goodd--" Hailey purred.

"It looks-- sooo bad," Wednesday remarked. Wednesday dragged curious digits along the waist of Hailey's skirt. Hailey looked above her naked shoulder. Wednesday gazed back. "Do you mind?" she asked. Hailey stared into her friend's sapphire eye shutters. She faced forward. Apricot eyebrows lifted above Hailey's eyes. Hailey rolled emerald irises along the edges of her eye sockets. She sighed. Hailey shimmied white ruffles down her hips. She dragged the waist of her skirt to her knees. She curled toes dotted with crimson nail polish through a tube of white facets. Hailey rolled onto her stomach. She supported herself with her elbows. Nervous emeralds studied Wednesday's face from the tops of Hailey's eye sockets.

Wednesday shuffled across the surface of Hailey's plaid covered mattress. She rested a polka dotted backside on her undressed heels. Red, lace panties were strapped around Hailey's butt. Ball bat welts decorated Hailey's pale cheeks. Wednesday glided tips of ginger fingers along borders of eggplant bruises. Hailey watched her friend's face over her shoulder. The corners of Hailey's lips curled into a smile.

"Wednesdayy--" Hailey groaned.

Wednesday's ruby mouth edges formed a smile. "I'm not gonna do anything, Hailey," Wednesday promised. "I just wanna see how bad they hurt you." Wednesday caressed purple stains painting the backs of Hailey's calves. She looked into Hailey's colorful face. "You look like a-- spotted cow."

Hailey faced the wall. "Awww--" she groaned. "Fuckk you--" Hailey curled her knees below her stomach. The bottoms of Hailey's feet formed stacks of flesh underneath her lace wrapped hiny. Hailey stared at her friend above her undressed shoulder. Apricot eyebrows lifted above Hailey's eye sockets. "Examination over." Wednesday flattened tiny fingers beside polka dotted knees. She gazed into her friend's emerald irises. She smiled.

"Okay," Wednesday responded. Wednesday licked her ruby red lips. "Come here," she remarked.

Hailey's eyebrows climbed her pale forehead. "Whatt--?" she snarled. Wednesday crawled across the surface of Hailey's bed. She sat on her knees beside her friend.

"Come herre--" Wednesday purred. Wednesday squeezed her arms around Hailey's slender neck. Hailey swiveled her shoulders. She wrapped bruised biceps around her friend's silk coated ribs. Wednesday soothed Hailey's undressed spine with the tips of her fingers. The cuff of a crisp shirt sleeve glided across Hailey's soft skin. Hailey flattened her chin on her friend's shoulder. She rested the edge of her head against Wednesday's temple. She closed her eyes. Wednesday's pale irises stared at vertical planks lining Hailey's closet. Wednesday licked her ruby lips. "I don't know what's gonna-- happen," Wednesday grumbled.

"I know, Wednesday," Hailey responded. Hailey crushed Wednesday's ribs between her biceps. She inhaled through her claret stained lips. "You know they're gonna come looking for me." Wednesday squinted. She inhaled through ruby mouth edges.

"What did you do with their bodies?" Wednesday inquired. Hailey stared out of rectangular lenses. Emerald irises studied reeds woven across the surface of Hailey's window.

"You mean-- Larry and my mom?" Hailey asked. Hailey lifted her chest off of Wednesday's. Wednesday let go of her friend's shoulders. Hailey flattened pale fingers along tops of undressed thighs. Wednesday gripped peaks of polka dotted upper legs. She gazed into her friend's emerald eye shutters. Hailey inhaled a breath.

"When I got home Thursday night," Hailey responded. "Um-- after having the living shit beat out of me." Wednesday watched her friend's colorful face. "Larry was hacking my mom to pieces-- with an axe." The blood drained out of Wednesday's face. Wednesday looked sickly. Wednesday snatched Hailey's calico kitten from a space beside her pillows. She swiveled on undressed shins and knees. She faced the opposite direction from her friend. She squeezed Hailey's stuffed kitten against her chest. Hailey watched her friend over her pale shoulder. She licked her lips. "You want me to stop?" Hailey asked. Wednesday's pale, blue irises studied yellow and black checks decorating Hailey's quilt. She looked at planks of wood decorating the lower half of Hailey's wall.

"How did you get-- home?" Wednesday inquired. Wednesday looked at plaid covering Hailey's mattress. "Where did they beat you up?" Wednesday looked over her shoulder. She studied her friend's emerald irises. Hailey sighed. Glittering eye shutters wandered around Hailey's eye sockets. Hailey shuffled on the surfaces of her shins. She sat on her knees beside her friend.

"Maybe I should tell you that story, first--" Hailey decided.

Paul flipped a light switch beside his bedroom door. Fluorescent black light tubes hanging from Paul's bedroom walls illuminated. Ironically, an incandescent bulb hanging from Paul's ceiling fan did not ignite. Long plates surrounding Paul's bedroom fan began turning. The body of the room's cooling device swung from a fixture attached to the ceiling. Paul walked into his bedroom. He was followed by Vicky, Travis, Jennifer, and Martin. Martin plopped uncertain fingers on his hips. He looked around. Paul's bedroom walls were covered with punk posters, black lights, and drawings. Pastel stars of varying hues were scattered along the surface of Paul's ceiling. They reflected ultraviolet radiation. Paul's bedroom floor was covered with dirty clothes, textbooks, overdue schoolwork, and other junk.

"Good God, Paul--" Martin grumbled. "You didn't have to clean the place for us." Paul knelt down. He tossed dirty blue jeans out of his way. Paul and his friends began sifting through junk. Martin scraped things off of the bedroom carpet. An old skateboard shoe dangled from the fingers of Martin's right hand. A bowling pin and a deflated basketball hung from Martin's left hand digits. "Could we at least get some light in here?" Martin complained. Paul pointed at a light bulb hanging from his ceiling fan. A vacuum sealed flask forged from frosted silicates dangled from threads fastened to AC wires.

"That light doesn't work," Paul explained. He pointed towards the bedroom door. "Go turn on a-- T-V or something." Martin studied a corner beside the door. He crinkled suspicious eyes. A mountain of dysfunctional televisions towered beside the entrance to Paul's room. Martin studied the edge of Paul's face.

"Paull--" Martin groaned. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

Vicky handed her father a power strip. "Go plug in as many as you can," she instructed.

Paul studied a plastic AC diverter. "You know-- I've been looking for that God damn thing," Paul commented. Martin wandered next to Paul's television collection. He plugged the power strip into an outlet. He attached six television leads. Paul had more than that.

"Where did you get all of these?" Martin inquired.

"He collects them," Vicky explained. Vicky scooted empty soda cans out of her way. Martin knelt down next to cathode tubes. He pressed power buttons poking out of television panels. Electron snow scorched bulb shaped monitors. Random light signals illuminated Paul's bedroom. Martin looked around. He shook his head. Travis tossed filthy t-shirts. He scattered broken skateboard decks. He studied a table beside Paul's bed. A CD player rested on the surface of Paul's bedside stand. A long, plastic button emerged from the face of Paul's music device. A right pointing arrow was forged into the surface of a polystyrene switch. Travis pressed the button. Paul's CD player filled the room with distorted guitar pumps, witty drum taps, and silly punk lyrics. Travis smirked. He nodded his head in time with rebellious beats. He studied Martin's face. Martin's crinkled eyes stared back. Martin shook his head.

"What-- the fuck is that shit?!" Martin demanded.

"Kinky Sex Dog Collars," Paul responded. Martin listened to whiny, anarchic lyrics. He shook his head.

"I don't like it," Martin commented. Travis turned down a volume knob. Martin folded pairs of dirty jeans. He stacked them against the wall. "I need a beer," Martin remarked.

"Aww, yeahh--" Paul groaned. "I think we could all use one." Paul stacked schoolbooks next to his bed. He hopped up. He wandered into the hallway. Jennifer sat behind a pile of trash she accumulated. She looked up.

"What a mess!" Jennifer barked. "We're never gonna find this-- fucking thing."

"It's here," Vicky assured her friends. She tossed cigarette butts into a small trashcan. "He's showed it to me before." Vicky offered the trashcan to Jennifer. Jennifer crammed the wastebasket full of garbage. Vicky set the trashcan down. Martin stared at refuse poking out of a plastic container.

"Is that-- an old banana peel?" Martin demanded. Jennifer collected junk from the surface of Paul's floor. Brunette eyebrows lifted above Jennifer's pale, blue eyes.

"I-- don't know." Travis dragged a plastic bag from a space underneath Paul's bed. He stared at it. Travis slid the ancient sack across the floor. It came to rest against Jennifer's plaid covered thigh. Jennifer looked beside her. She shoved herself to her feet. She backed against a wall. She pointed at a ripped up, plastic container.

"What-- the fuck is that?" Jennifer demanded.

"I think they're pork rinds," Travis explained. Jennifer studied sheets of transparent film. Giant mold spots the color of charcoal stained the inside of the bag. Jennifer hugged strawberry fabric wrapping her trim stomach. She gritted disgusted teeth.

"That's gross--" Jennifer grumbled. Paul stood in the doorway. Brown, glass bottles dangled from Paul's fingers. Paul studied a bag of molded pig flesh. Lips below sapphire lenses formed a smirk.

"Awww--" Paul groaned. "I forgot about those." Paul tip-toed between junk covering his bedroom floor. He handed everyone a beer. Martin twisted a riveted cap off of frosty bottle threads. He plopped a glass container against his lips. He poured oat soda between the edges of his mouth. He studied a sack of fermenting pork skins Travis dragged from the base of Paul's bed. Paul poked an old radio antenna into a fermenting, plastic bag. He lifted it off of the floor. He wandered into the hallway. Jennifer stared at a section of carpet where expired pork rinds resided. She looked around.

"What-- the fuck??" Jennifer exhaled

"Don't look under the bed," Vicky instructed. "I've seen him put-- all kinds of stuff under there."




Chapter 18: "Moth to Flame"
Table of Contents

It was after six. It was getting dark. Wednesday swooped on a swing in Hailey's backyard. Hailey was tinkering with a different swing. She was reattaching one edge of a swing seat to a chain. Behind the girls, a pack of white puffs hovered in front of a grey canopy. Wednesday looked around Hailey's backyard. The yard consisted of bare dirt and overgrown weeds. There was no grass. Candy bar wrappers and grocery sacks drifted on tips of foliage flagpoles. A couple of old car tires were stacked beside Hailey's swing set. A mountain of empty beer bottles poked out of fifteen inch holes between rubber sidewalls. Wednesday dragged the toes of her saddle shoes through loose dirt. She stopped her swing. She studied her friend's flame tinted locks.

"Are you gonna call Lloyd?" Wednesday asked. Hailey gazed into Wednesday's pale, blue irises. She looked around.

"You know-- I haven't even thought about that." Wednesday fished a pack of cigarettes out of a pocket stitched to the breast of her shirt. She extracted a coffin nail from a wallet sized box.

"You're still gonna call him, right?" Wednesday inquired. "He gave you his number." Hailey hooked a chain link through a ring hanging from the edge of a rubber seat. She squeezed a rusted hoop with a set of channel locks. Hailey stood up.

"Call him-- right now?" Hailey requisitioned. A cigarette hung from Wednesday's ruby lips. Wednesday flipped open a gold plated lighter. She struck a flint. She dangled a one inch flame beside the end of her cancer stick.

"Well--" Wednesday croaked. She intersected the tip of her cigarette with a queso shaded eruption. "I wonder-- if he would be willing to help." Hailey squeezed a hiny wrapped in white ruffles onto a belt suspended between rust coated chains. She rocked her swing back and forth. She looked into her friend's eyes.

"I'd have to tell him-- I killed five people at school, today." Hailey squinted. "You think I should-- tell him that?" Wednesday began swinging. She plucked a coffin nail from her ruby lips. She swooshed through a cloud of tobacco mist erupting from the edges of her mouth.

"I meant-- maybe he could help," Wednesday responded. Hailey scooted backwards on toes of white canvas shoes. She lifted her feet. She swooped next to her friend. She studied Wednesday's pale irises.

"You mean-- ask him to help me kill everyone else?" Wednesday stared into her friend's emerald eye shutters. She faced forward. She exhaled a heavy breath.

"That is the general idea. Isn't it?" The girls floated on rubber seats. Hailey watched calves wrapped with candy cane stripes and insteps strapped with crimson laces. Hailey's lower legs rocked below the tips of her knees. Hailey looked beside her. She watched chin length strands the color of licorice shuffle beside her friend's cheeks.

"That's a lot to ask," Hailey explained. "I barely know the guy."

"You said he really likes you, right?" Wednesday inquired. Wednesday watched flames floating beside Hailey's pale face. Hailey nodded.

"Oh, yeah," Hailey responded. "I think he really likes me."

"You said you like him," Wednesday added. Hailey stared into her friend's face. Her crimson lips curled into a smile. Hailey faced forward. She tried to keep her eyes off of her friend's curious face. She looked into Wednesday's teal irises. Wednesday's ruby lips formed into a smile. Wednesday shrugged. "He has a car."

Hailey faced forward. "I have my mom's car," she explained.

Wednesday watched Hailey's pale face swim through a lake of fire. "Soo-- you have two cars," Wednesday pointed out. Hailey looked beside her. Wednesday dangled her cigarette from her lips. The end of Wednesday's coffin nail glowed tangerine orange. Wednesday shrugged. "Think about it." The girls swooped in silence. Wednesday felt her stomach growling. She patted her belly. She looked at Hailey. She squinted. "I'm hungry," she reported. A gust of wind blew Wednesday's chin length hair in front of her face.

"There's some pizza in the refrigerator," Hailey explained. Wednesday's shoes flattened on soft dirt. Her swing stopped. Wednesday grabbed Hailey's wrist.

"What kind?" Wednesday demanded.

Hailey stopped swinging. "I told them to put every kind of meat they had." Wednesday tossed her cigarette between the toes of her saddle shoes. She stomped it flat.

"Fuckin'-A--" Wednesday groaned. Wednesday hopped off of her swing. She grabbed Hailey's fingers. She dragged her friend to the back door. Wednesday dropped her smokes on a counter next to the sink. Hailey laid her channel locks next to Wednesday's cigarettes. Wednesday dragged a flat, white box out of the refrigerator. She rested it on a kitchen counter. Hailey set down a couple of paper plates. Wednesday studied wax coated discs. She studied her friend's emerald irises. "Mmicrowave??" Wednesday demanded. Hailey studied her friend's disgusted face. She shrugged. "Fuckk you--" Wednesday groaned.

Wednesday stepped in front of a stove. She reached above gas burners. She turned a dial. She lined up a white dot with a setting that read "350". "Find some foil," Wednesday instructed. Hailey opened a drawer beside the sink. She grabbed a long, skinny box. She opened a door below the stove. She laid a sheet of flattened aluminum across oven rack wires. Wednesday set a timer using Hailey's nuke box. She set it for thirteen minutes. She grabbed the pizza box. She crouched down next to her friend. "Mmmmicrowave--" Wednesday grumbled. Wednesday plopped down two slices of pizza. She looked into her friend's eyes. "More?" she asked.

"They're so big," Hailey responded. "I got the biiig pizza." Wednesday stared into her friend's emerald irises. She plopped down two remaining slices. She closed the oven. The girls plopped down on the couch. It was like sitting in a kid's ball pit. Hailey and Wednesday sank into sloppy, worn out couch cushions. Wednesday looked beside her. She studied Hailey's pale face.

"I see you couldn't do much with this old couch."

Hailey shrugged. "Some things can't be fixed." Hailey balanced the toe of her right shoe on the edge of the coffee table. She unfastened claret laces. Wednesday unstrapped one of her saddle shoes. The girls kicked their shoes underneath Hailey's worn out living room table. Wednesday plopped fingers decorated with black nail polish beside polka dot wrapped knees. She studied carpet fluffs between silk socks covering her toes. Points of long, black eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Wednesday's nose. Wednesday inhaled through her nose. She exhaled a heavy breath. Hailey studied her friend's irritated face. She inhaled between crimson stained lips. "Aww, fuck--" Hailey groaned. "You're mad at me again, aren't you?" Wednesday stared at tan carpet sprouts. She stared into her friend's emerald eye shutters.

"Haileyy--" Wednesday snarled. Hailey watched her friend's agitated precipice. She waited to hear whatever terrible thing was on Wednesday's mind. "If I was raped," Wednesday explained. "You would be-- the first person I came to for help." Hailey faced forward. Her shoulders sank into worn out couch fluffs. Hailey folded her arms over her chest. She raised her palms in front of her bruised biceps.

"I didn't know-- what to do," Hailey explained.

"Well, how many things can you think of??" Wednesday barked. Hailey stared at her friend's pale, blue irises. She exhaled a shaky breath. Wednesday studied emeralds behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. She inhaled through her ruby stained lips. "You were already thinking about killing him, weren't you?" Wednesday requisitioned. "Even then?" Hailey stared at Wednesday's angry face. Wednesday faced forward. She showed Hailey her palm. She inhaled through scowling mouth rims. "Don't answer that," Wednesday instructed. She pointed at Hailey's face with the tips of her fingers. "I gotta pee." Wednesday dug herself out of Hailey's living room sofa. She stomped down the hallway. She slammed the bathroom door.

Hailey stared into space. She folded her candy cane legs like a pretzel. She rested bruised forearms on white ruffles covering her lap. Hailey listened to heavy droplets pelting the patio door. It was starting to rain again. Thick precipitation battered a door shaped pane of plate glass. Hailey heard a toilet flush. She listened to Wednesday wandering down the hall. She looked up. Wednesday gazed at Hailey from the end of the hallway. She rested uncertain fingers along a corner across from the front door. Wednesday hurried across the living room on silk covered toes. She plopped down next to her friend. She wrapped her arms around Hailey's shoulders. She snuggled the edge of her face beside her friend's slender neck. Hailey strapped bruised forearms and biceps around her friend's trim waist. She rested the edge of her head against Wednesday's temple. She closed her eyes. Wednesday squeezed Hailey's undressed biceps.

"I love you, Haileyy--" Wednesday squeezed out. She lifted her head. Hailey loosened her arms. Wednesday gazed into Hailey's emerald irises. She glided tips of tiny fingers down flame tinted strands growing out of Hailey's scalp. "My friend--" Wednesday purred. Wednesday's ruby lips transformed into a smile. The edges of Hailey's mouth curled towards her forehead. Hailey soothed a silk covered space between Wednesday's shoulder blades.

"I love you too, Wednesday," Hailey responded. "You're my best friend." Wednesday exhaled a breath between smiling lips. She let go of Hailey's shoulders. She sat beside her friend's pretzel knotted legs. The girls listened to raindrops striking the patio door. They heard thunder rumbling distant clouds. Ten minutes later, the microwave timer dinged. The girls wandered into the kitchen. An aroma of yeast risen dough, melted mozzarella, crisping pepperoni, and sizzling tomato sauce filled the cooking area. Wednesday opened the oven. Hailey offered her friend a paper plate. Wednesday folded ends of pizza crust together. She lifted a twelve inch slice of Italian pie off of an aluminum foil sheet. She supported a yeast risen tip with the fingers of her free hand. She laid the slice of pizza across the paper plate Hailey was holding. It dangled over edges of a cardboard disc. Hailey set the paper plate down. She held out another one. Wednesday dropped a second twelve inch slice on top.

The girls grabbed sodas from the refrigerator. Hailey and Wednesday sank into the living room sofa. They rested pizza covered discs near the edge of the coffee table. They opened cola cans. Wednesday sipped syrup sweetened suds. She deposited a frosty can next to her paper plate. She balanced a mozzarella soaked triangle in front of her face. She sank teeth between ruby red lips into gooey cheese, sweet sauce, and a crispy platter made of flour. She crunched edges of cooked sausage between points of famished molars. Hailey dragged strands of liquid mozzarella and parmesan away from bases of oil coated pepperoni. Raindrops beating the patio door began to slow down. A teal flash illuminated the back door. Thunder rattled a seven foot pane of glass. Wednesday nearly finished her first slice of pizza. She studied Hailey's. It was nearly gone.

"Are you gonna want another one?" Wednesday asked. Hailey chomped wadded dough, sauce, and cheese between gratified teeth. Her cheeks were puffed up like a chipmonk's. Hailey looked beside her. She swallowed.

"Are you fuckin' kidding me, or what?"

"Save some for mee--" an uninvited voice snarled. Wednesday and Hailey's heads turned like tops. The girls looked towards the hallway. Travis stood beside a corner across from the front door. He stared into Hailey's emerald eye shutters. He smirked. Travis unlocked the front door. He opened it. Jennifer wandered through Hailey's storm door. She looked around.

"What a shit-hole--" she grumbled. Jennifer studied Hailey's colorful face. "Why am I not surprised you live here." Jennifer glared at Wednesday. Auburn eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Jennifer's nose. "Who the fuck are you?!" Jennifer barked.

"Dead meat?" Travis inquired. Wednesday curled her legs onto the sofa. She huddled next to her friend. She wrapped silk covered arms around her friend's shoulders.

"Hailey, what the fuck do we do??" Wednesday whispered. Hailey studied Travis' cornflower irises. She swallowed.

"Run," Hailey instructed. The girls hopped off of the couch. They dashed for the patio door. Hailey ripped open the patio glass. She froze. The girls walked backwards into the living room. Paul, Vicky, and Martin followed them in. Martin closed the door. He latched it.

"Not so tough without her little bag of tricks," Travis remarked. "Huh, Paul?"

Hailey spun on toes of red and white socks. "Took you guys long enough to find me," Hailey commented. "We've been here for like-- eight hours."

Travis crossed his arms over his chest. "Aww--" Travis groaned. "You know I'd never forget about you-- Hailey Holloway."

"Took him a couple of beers," Paul explained. "But, he finally pulled your name out of his ass."

"Who's she?" Vicky coldly inquired. Hailey studied Vicky's chocolate brown irises. Vicky stared back below flattened eyebrows. Wednesday squeezed frightened arms around Hailey's waist. She looked around. "Who is she, freakk??" Vicky snarled.

Hailey's pale face wobbled on the end of her neck. "She's got nothing to do with this," Hailey responded. "Let her go." Martin battered Hailey's pale cheek. Hailey slipped out of her friend's silk covered forearms. Wednesday watched her friend collide with kitchen floor tiles. She felt the blood drain out of her face. She stared into Martin's dark irises, stupidly. She inhaled a shaky breath.

"Aww, fuckk--" Wednesday grumbled. Martin strapped thick fingers around Wednesday's slender neck. He lifted Wednesday off of the floor. He stared into Wednesday's pale irises.

"Tell me your name--" Martin snarled. Wednesday exhaled a terrified breath. She tilted her head back. She shook her head. Martin dropped Wednesday next to Hailey.

"Ah!" Wednesday shrieked. Wednesday scrambled beside her friend. She threw her arms around her shoulders. Martin studied Wednesday's teal eye shutters. He shrugged.

"Sorry, sweetie--" Martin groaned. "Looks like you were in the wrong place at the wrong time." Martin faced Paul and Vicky. "Tie them up," he instructed. He looked at Travis and Jennifer. "You guys go get the gas cans." Travis and Jennifer hurried through the front door. Martin stared at Hailey's emerald irises. Hailey squeezed Wednesday's ribs with bruised biceps. She gazed into Martin's piercing eyes from the tops of her glasses lenses.

"Hello, Hailey," Martin kindly remarked.

"M-Martin," Hailey squeezed out.

Paul stepped next to the girls. He released a length of rope. Ends of twine strands unraveled. They stopped beside the soles of Paul's canvas sneakers.

"Oh, you do remember me," Martin responded. Paul yanked Wednesday's arms away from her friend's shoulders. Wednesday exhaled a short whimper. Paul dragged Wednesday away from Hailey. "You knoww--" Martin purred. "You killed four of my friends, today." Vicky grabbed Hailey's eggplant stained wrists. She tied them behind her back. Hailey watched Vicky over her shoulder. Vicky's face looked like a machine.

"She's your daughter!" Hailey shouted. Hailey faced Martin. "What the fuck-- is wrong with you??" Hailey was sitting on her knees. Vicky shoved Hailey onto her face.

"You have no idea who you're dealing with, Hailey," Martin responded.

Vicky kicked Hailey in the ribs. "No--" Vicky grunted. She sank the toe of her cherry red flat into the edge of Hailey's stomach. "Idea!" Hailey tilted her face off of the floor. She squeezed her eyes shut. She inhaled heavy breaths. Vicky lifted Hailey's candy cane footsies behind her thighs. She tied Hailey's ankles to her wrists. Martin looked towards the living room.

"How we doin' there, Paul?" Martin requisitioned. Paul knotted a length of rope between the cuffs of Wednesday's sleeves and silk parachutes surrounding her heels. He looked up.

"We're good," he responded. Hailey looked up. Martin stared into Hailey's emerald irises. Hailey inhaled a sharp breath.

"Mr. Turnerr--" Hailey groaned. Martin snagged a hold of Hailey's fiery locks. He dragged Hailey across the kitchen floor. Hailey exhaled terrified shouts on peaks of short breaths.

"Ah! Ah!" Martin situated Hailey next to her friend. The screen door shut. Wednesday and Hailey faced the entrance to the house. Travis and Jennifer stood in the doorway. Two gas cans laid in front of Travis and Jennifer's feet. They were bone dry. Apparently, it stopped raining. Travis and Jennifer looked at Martin.

"Do it," Martin instructed. Travis and Jennifer lugged cans filled with gasoline into the living room. They removed plastic caps. They doused Hailey and Wednesday with frosty, foul smelling liquid. Wednesday choked on flammable fumes. She began coughing. Travis soaked Hailey's blouse with ice cold fossil fuel. Hailey glared at Travis above her shoulder. She shivered. Hailey's crimson stained lips quivered.

"Well, bitch--" Travis croaked. "Looks like you were better off staying in the dirt." Hailey exhaled frustrated, shivering breaths. "Now-- we gotta kill your friend, too."

"Fuck you, ass-hole!" Hailey shouted back. Travis poured a gasoline trail from Hailey's tits to the front door. Travis splashed fuel on the walls and on the carpet. Jennifer emptied her gas can. She joined her boyfriend beside the front door. Travis extracted a plastic lighter from the pocket of his jeans. He showed it to Wednesday. He looked into Hailey's emerald irises. He grinned.

"Good night, ladies--" Travis groaned. He rolled a flint. Travis' arm ignited. Cheddar colored flames climbed the sleeve of Travis' leather jacket. Travis dropped the lighter. "AAH!" Travis shrieked. A plastic lighter surrounded by gasoline flames dropped beside Travis' gas can. Travis battered the door frame with his arm. Gasoline coating the wall ignited. A flame wave the color of glass cleaner wandered along white paint coating sheetrock. Cheddar tinted coils followed. Jennifer shoved Travis outside.

"Find a puddle, dipshit!" she instructed. A pool of gasoline underneath Travis' fuel container ignited. A fireball erupted from a plastic nozzle poking out of Travis' gas can. Martin, Paul, and Vicky hurried through the back door.

"Shit-shit-shit!" Paul grumbled. "Shit-shit-shit-shit!" Jennifer disappeared through the front entrance. Hailey looked around. Gasoline splashes went up in flames. A trail leading to Hailey's chest caught fire. A glass cleaner wake wandered down a gasoline trickle. Mango fingers followed. Hailey looked into Wednesday's teal irises. Rectangular lenses surrounding the bridge of Hailey's nose reflected orange glints.

"Roll!" Hailey shouted. Wednesday rolled towards the coffee table. Hailey rolled towards the kitchen. Flames collected near the middle of the living room carpet. They began to spread.

"Hailey!" Wednesday cried. "You've gotta untie me!" Hailey wiggled around towers of carpet flames. She crushed her fingers on top of Wednesday's. She gripped edges of twine knots between crimson stained fingernails.

"Hang on, Wednesdayy--" Hailey groaned. Hailey listened to Travis' pickup and Martin's Cutler peel away. Hailey picked a knot squeezing Wednesday's wrists together. Wednesday forced grateful palms through columns of rope.

"Yes!" Wednesday shouted. Wednesday scrambled behind Hailey's shoulders. She quickly untied Hailey's wrists. The girls unfastened their ankles. They grabbed their shoes from carpet fluffs underneath the coffee table. Wednesday dashed towards the back door. She grabbed her smokes off of a kitchen counter. Wednesday looked towards the living room. She watched her friend dancing through flames on toes of candy cane socks. "HAILEYY!!" Wednesday shrieked. "What the fuck are you doing?!!" Hailey scraped up her and Wednesday's backpacks. She hurried towards the kitchen.

"GO!" Hailey ordered. Wednesday squeezed fingers coated with black acrylic around the breast of Hailey's crimson blouse. She dragged her friend through the back door.

"Are you fuckin' kidding me?!" Wednesday belched. "You went back for those!?!" Hailey shoved Wednesday's blue jean backpack against her chest. She showed Wednesday her tomato red book bag.

"All my weapons are in here!" Hailey explained. She threw her backpack over her shoulders. "And, every dollar to my name!" The girls opened a rotting gate leading to the driveway. They froze. Hailey's mother's S.U.V. was engulfed in flames. The interior was filled with cheddar and mango eruptions. Plumes of black smoke poured out of edges of door windows. Gasoline plumes coated slick paint covering the body of the vehicle. Hailey squeezed defeated fingers against hips wrapped with white skirt ruffles. Apricot eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Hailey's nose behind rectangles reflecting tangerine coils. Wednesday grabbed Hailey's fingers. She tugged her friend's arm.

"It's a goner, Hailey!" Wednesday shouted above flame percussions. "We have to get away from the house!" Hailey looked at Wednesday over her shoulder. She licked gasoline soaked lips.

"They think we're dead, right?" Wednesday stared into her friend's glittering eye shutters. She tilted her head.

"Probably." Hailey gripped her friend's silk covered shoulders. She shoved Wednesday towards the backyard.

"Go through the alley," Hailey instructed. "We'll walk to your house."




Chapter 19: "Twisted Trees"
Table of Contents

On the other side of the freeway, it was pouring down rain. When Hailey and Wednesday crossed the Patrick Peterson, they became soaked. Wednesday stopped a couple of blocks down Dora Lane. She took out her umbrella. She held it above the girls' heads. Hailey and Wednesday made it to a house across the street from Martin's. The girls were tired of walking. Wednesday looked beside her.

"Can we stop for a minute?" she asked. Hailey studied a front porch that was similar to Martin's. A porch covering extended from the edge of a tile roof. The overhang was supported above a pine deck. A hand carved railing surrounded the edges of Martin's neighbor's porch. Three slick, wood steps led from lawn grass to the deck. It was nighttime. The porch was completely shrouded in shadow. Hailey looked into her friend's pale irises.

"You mind hiding out on some stranger's porch?" Hailey inquired.

Wednesday shook her head. "Fuck no," she replied. "I'm fucking exhausted." The girls tip-toed through lush grass. They crept up pine steps. Wednesday folded her umbrella. The girls crouched behind railing supports along the end of a shadow covered porch. Hailey and Wednesday took off soaking wet backpacks. They rested them on slick planks fastened to the porch. Wednesday reached behind her back. She plopped tiny fingers on the base of her spine. She arched her back. Hailey and Wednesday peered through vertical posts erupting from the edge of the porch. Rain water poured off the end of a roof several feet away. The girls studied Martin's front yard. Martin's artistically grown trees folded into each other's limbs above blades of jade green grass. Travis and Martin's vehicles were nowhere in sight.

"I'm surprised they're not there," Hailey remarked. Sirens filled distant air. Cycling triangle waves played through loudspeakers across the freeway. The girls looked towards the Patrick Peterson. A tower of black smoke climbed into an ocean of grey clouds. An orange glow illuminated the base of an exhaust column emitting from the foundations of Hailey's house. Lightning wandered along ridges of cumulus pastures. Wednesday massaged sopping wet silk covering her kidneys. She folded her arms on rain soaked polka dots covering her lap.

"How do you do this every day?" Wednesday inquired. Hailey looked beside her. She studied her friend's pale, shadow covered cheeks.

"You mean walking to school?" Hailey asked. Wednesday's head turned. Glints of light reflected from surfaces of poorly lit eye shutters. Wednesday nodded. Hailey exhaled a long breath. "Aww, it sucks--" Hailey groaned. Hailey faced forward. "You should see the freeway after school." Hailey licked her lips. She faced her friend. "You walk home from school every day, right?"

Wednesday untied her right shoe. "I walk by Linda Park," Wednesday explained. "It's like-- two blocks." Wednesday forced a sopping wet sock over her heel. She dragged a silk foot cover off of toenails decorated with black acrylic. She wrung out her sock.

"We're almost there," Hailey explained. Hailey unstrapped laces drenched with precipitation from the top of her instep. She rested a white, canvas shoe next to Wednesday's fifties style footwear.

"How much farther is it?" Wednesday asked. Hailey dragged a candy cane striped tube to her heel. She rolled red and white bands off of crimson stained toenails.

"Should be five blocks," Hailey responded. Hailey wrung out her striped sock. The girls hung soaked stockings from the edge of the deck. They dangled sopping wet footies over ends of slick, pine boards. Hailey crossed her ankles. She rocked bruised calves hanging from the edge of a shadow coated deck. She looked beside her. She studied dimly lit candy cane stripes drifting on free flowing wind gusts. "It just hit me," Hailey remarked. "The clothes I'm wearing-- they're the only ones I've got, now."

Wednesday studied ginger strands coated with shadow drifting along her friend's cheeks. "Aww, you're right--" Wednesday groaned. Wednesday's eyebrows lifted above her eye sockets. Wednesday gasped. "My jackett--" Wednesday grumbled. Hailey's nose crinkled. Hailey gritted her teeth. "My-- leather jacket."

"Aww, mann--" Hailey groaned. Wednesday studied her friend's pale, shadow shrouded precipice. She sighed.

"Anyway, you can-- borrow some of my clothes."

Hailey nodded. "Okay," she conceded. Hailey looked towards Martin's yard. "I was thinking, though-- maybe we should go shopping tomorrow."

"Ohhh--" Wednesday purred.

"I got some money," Hailey explained. She tilted her head. "Not much."

Wednesday nodded. "Okay," she responded. "Yeah, we can do that." Wednesday's ruby lips formed a grin around shaded teeth. "That actually sounds like fun," Wednesday exhaled through smiling lips. Hailey watched Martin's yard. Her crimson stained lips curled into a smile. The girls heard Travis' engine revving. They looked into each other's shadow covered eyes. They couldn't help but smirk. Hailey and Wednesday slipped pale calves onto the porch. They folded their legs like pretzels. Travis skidded beside the edge of Martin's yard. Rock music thumped through Travis' windows.

"Y-K-C," Hailey remarked. Wednesday chuckled. She studied her friend's pale cheeks.

"That is who that is," she responded. Martin's Cutler swooped into his driveway. Martin, Paul, and Vicky got out. Travis and Jennifer hopped out of Travis' pickup. The group wandered onto Martin's porch. Wednesday watched Travis and his friends gathering. She shook her head. "These people are freaks," she commented. She looked beside her. "Who are they?" Hailey stared between the trunks of Martin's twisting oak trees. She studied Martin's porch. She wiggled her head.

"I don't know," Hailey responded. Hailey reached beside her. She found Wednesday's soft fingers. They were trembling. Hailey closed her tiny digits around her friend's. She glided the surface of her thumb along the tips of Wednesday's knuckles. Wednesday squeezed her friend's fingers. Martin wandered past Paul and Vicky. He unlocked the front door.

"I gotta take a piss," Martin remarked. Vicky watched Travis wander to the porch. Chocolate irises stared below dull, flattened eyebrows. Vicky lifted exhausted lips off of emotionless teeth.

"Are we sure they're dead??" Vicky requisitioned. Travis raised his palms in front of his shoulders. The left sleeve of Travis' leather jacket was scorched.

"The fuck you talkin' about?" Travis responded. Travis and his girlfriend climbed steps leading to Martin's porch.

"You weren't supposed to do it like that," Paul explained. "You were supposed to light them on fire, numb-nuts."

Travis stood along the end of Martin's deck. "Oh, for fuck's sake--" Travis groaned. He pointed towards the freeway. "Take a sweet look." Paul and Vicky looked towards the Patrick Peterson. A column of black smoke towered into the sky. Orange and violet squiggles traveled along edges of storm clouds. "Look at that shit," Travis remarked. He looked at sapphire lenses covering Paul's eyes. "They're fuckin' dead, you morons." Travis looked into Vicky's cold, dead irises. Bushy brows lifted above Travis' eye sockets. "DEAD." Vicky crossed her arms on top of her chest. She flapped heavy eyelids.

"I'm not so sure."

"Ohhh, my Gyad--" Travis snarled.

"Can we do-- anything good enough for you?" Jennifer asked. Jennifer folded arms wrapped in carnation sweater sleeves on top of her chest.

"Mann--" Travis grumbled. He shook sarcastic fingers in front of his shoulders. "There's no sense in even-- discussing this!" Travis plopped leather coated wrists beside his hips. "They're fuckin' toast, guys!" Travis motioned towards the freeway. "Look!" Octagonal sapphires covering Paul's eyes faced Travis' cornflower blue irises. Paul folded arms surrounded by black hoodie sleeves over his chest.

"I never saw them catch fire," Paul explained. Paul glanced beside him. "Did you see them catch fire?" Paul asked Vicky.

Vicky shook her head. "No," she responded. "We were so worried about that can of gasoline exploding, we took off before we had a chance to see anything."

Travis lifted sarcastic eyebrows above smug eye shutters. "Do we need to go back and check?" he requisitioned.

Paul shook frustrated fingers in front of his biceps. "We can't go back and check!" Paul responded. "The cops are gonna be all over that place!"

Travis shrugged. "We can drive by and look. We just need to know if they're picking up the bodies."

Paul smacked his palm with his knuckles. "For all we know, they've already got the fucking bodies!"

"Well then, they'll print that in the newspaper," Travis pointed out. Paul looked away from his friend's face. He shook his head.

"Alright, then--" he grumbled. "We'll keep-- checkin' the fucking newspaper every single day." Paul looked into Travis' eyes. "Maybe, they'll bother to report that-- if they find they're bodies in the house."

Travis raised his palms in front of his chest. "Good enough for me." Travis looked around. He grinned. Vicky's lips lifted off of gritted teeth.

"Wipe that-- fucking smirk off of your face," Vicky squeezed through clenched incisors. "Tommy, Joe, Tatum, and Gary are all dead because of us!" Travis faced pine boards covering the surface of Martin's deck. He squeezed joyous lips together. He nodded. He looked into Vicky's eyes. He showed Vicky his palms.

"You're right," Travis conceded. Travis gazed at the lenses of Paul's shades. "Okay." Travis folded his fingers in front of his crotch. Travis' jet black eyebrows lifted above his cornflower irises. "You guys got some weed?" Vicky scoffed. She rolled her eyes. She looked away and shook her head. Paul fished his pipe out of the pocket of his jeans. He dangled a shiny tube from his lips. He ignited a plastic lighter in front of a chrome fitting. The tip of a queso shaded flame curled into the end of Paul's pipe. Paul inhaled hot, skunk flavored vapors. He handed the pipe to Travis. Travis suspended Paul's lighter in front of his pipe. He took a toke. He studied Vicky's exhausted face. Vicky stared back below flattened eyebrows. Travis offered Vicky Paul's pipe. Vicky's fingers surrounded a shiny shaft. Vicky's tiny digits were shaking. Vicky took a toke. Her dad appeared beside her. He closed a storm door.

"Wellll--" Martin groaned. "Looks like I got here just in time." Vicky inhaled humid exhaust. She handed Paul's pipe to her father. Martin took a toke. He handed the pipe to Jennifer. Jennifer squeezed Paul's pipe against lips coated with carnation gloss. She struck Paul's plastic lighter. She sucked a butane flame into a chrome plated fitting. She inhaled thick mist. She crinkled pale, blue eyes. She felt like she was choking.

"Awww--" Jennifer groaned. She exhaled a tube of pot vapors. "Paul, this is-- not good," Jennifer grumbled.

Paul exhaled through smiling lips. "It's all I got, guys. You want the good stuff, you're gonna have to wait until tomorrow."

"Ohh--" Travis groaned. Travis looked into Martin's chocolate irises. He squinted. "You're going to see Martin's friend, tomorrow?" Martin opened the storm door. Paul grabbed Vicky's jiggling digits. He led Vicky into the house. Travis and Jennifer followed. Martin closed the door and locked it. Wednesday looked beside her. She studied Hailey's wafting, ginger tinted strands. Wednesday narrowed shadow coated eyes.

"We should burn Martin's house down--" Wednesday snarled. Hailey chuckled. She stared at glints reflecting from her friend's irises. She licked claret stained lips.

"That's not a bad idea, actually," Hailey admitted. Hailey collected a candy cane sock from the edge of Martin's neighbor's deck. She lifted crimson dotted toes in front of her lap. She glided shadow shrouded digits into the neck of her striped stocking. It was still pretty damp. Wednesday tilted her head.

"We could try," Wednesday grumbled. Wednesday stretched the neck of a silk sock over her heel. Hailey tied a crimson bow along the beginning of her instep. She pulled thick, red loops tight.

"Fuck that--" Hailey exhaled. "They think we're dead. I'm not ready to launch another attack. Not just yet." Hailey gazed into her friend's shaded irises. "We need to get some rest. That's what we need to do."

Wednesday nodded. "Agreed." Wednesday secured suede laces around the neck of a saddle shoe surrounding her foot. The girls finished tying their shoes. They collected their backpacks from slick porch planks. They snuck down steps leading from the end of a shadow covered deck to rain drenched grass blades. Wednesday opened a black umbrella above her and her friend's heads. The girls headed west down Dora Lane.




Chapter 20: "Wednesday's Dwelling"
Table of Contents

The girls were in Wednesday's bedroom. They sat across from each other. Hailey sank into a white beanbag chair. Wednesday collapsed on the surface of a red, bean filled sack. Blades of Sloth played through the speakers of Wednesday's CD player. Black metal vocal shrieks were layered on top of blast beats and bass guitar pumps. Hailey's upper body was wrapped in a black t-shirt. YKC artwork was printed across Hailey's tits. The letter's "Y", "K", and "C" were etched using red acrylic with a yellow border. Hyphens were drawn through each character. Red and black flannel pants draped Hailey's thighs and calves. A black t-shirt was also wadded around Wednesday's chest, arms, and stomach. A drawing of a punker wearing a plaid jacket and jeans was printed down the front of Wednesday's shirt. Wednesday's t-shirt icon was moshing. "Kinky Sex Dog Collars" was drawn above that. Crooked, black letters with yellow embossing spelled the band's name. Baggy sleeves curled around the ends of Wednesday's tiny knuckles. Black pajama bottoms with white, vertical strips blanketed Wednesday's legs.

Wednesday's fingernails and toenails were coated with fresh, black acrylic. Wednesday dangled wet fingertips in front of her lips. She forced air out of a pea sized opening near middles of salmon tinted mouth edges. Hailey folded fingers dotted with tangerine nail polish on top of flames hanging from her scalp. She crossed ankles wrapped in plaid tubes. Toes spotted with lime green acrylic extended from the ends of Hailey's pale insteps.

Hailey stared at her friend's bedroom ceiling. Christmas lights surrounded the top edges of Wednesday's bedroom walls. Cherry red light poured out of tiny bulbs extending from green, plastic ballasts. Five fan blades poked out of a light fixture near the middle of Wednesday's bedroom ceiling. Five light globes hanging from the middle of Wednesday's ceiling fan were switched off. Thirteen lit candles were scattered along various surfaces throughout Wednesday's room. Wednesday's bed was arranged next to Hailey's bean bag chair. The head of Wednesday's bed frame faced a wall behind Hailey's shoulder blades. A structure supporting Wednesday's mattress was forged from stainless steel. Square shaped posts erupted from the corners of Wednesday's bed frame. Shiny balls were threaded onto the ends. Wednesday's bedding was wrapping in black pillow cases and sheets. A black quilt was arranged on top.

Rock and metal posters coated Wednesday's bedroom walls. A Blades of Sloth poster was tacked above Hailey's ginger locks. It was illuminated by nearby candles. Blades of Sloth's lead singer was printed near the middle of Wednesday's wall banner. Strands of long, black hair surrounded a shrieking face with wide eyes and grinning lips. White makeup coated Blades of Sloth's frontman's face. Long triangles forged with black makeup extended from the lead singer's eye sockets. Images of the band's guitarist and bassist were printed beside the edges of the lead singer's painted precipice. The strings artists' faces were also decorated with white and black makeup. Makeup painted faces between strands of long, black hair were distorted using computer software. Other members of the band were printed beside digitally twisted faces. Shrouds of black leather clothes wrapped bodies of black metal musicians. Blades of Sloth's logo was printed along the top of the poster. Points like tips of flames extended from edges of wavy letters spelling the band's name. Wednesday studied her friend's pale, candlelit face.

"Are you getting tired of these guys, yet?" Wednesday asked. Hailey lifted her head. She looked into her friend's eyes. Undecorated lips wandered to the edge of Hailey's face.

"Don't you have like-- a bunch of Walter albums?"

Wednesday's slender eyebrows lifted above her pale, blue irises. "I have all of their albums," Wednesday responded. Wednesday hopped off of a red vinyl bag filled with polystyrene puffs. She searched jewel cases arranged on a bookshelf. Wednesday extracted a plastic, compact disc frame. She showed it to Hailey. Hailey searched CD album artwork. An image of a black sky was printed behind drawings of snow covered cabins. Hailey's apricot eyebrows lifted above her emerald irises.

"Is that their second album?" Hailey inquired. "That's my favorite one!" Wednesday opened a music device resting on the surface of her dresser. She replaced a Blades of Sloth disc with Walter's second album. She closed the CD bay. She returned the album she removed to its jewel case. She pressed a plastic button near the middle of her music device. Distorted guitar feedback played through speaker cones surrounding Wednesday's CD player. Plinks from a plastic pick sliding across E and A strings interrupted a recursive squelch. Cymbal clanks preceded electric piano chords. Wednesday dropped to her knees in front of her bookshelf. She sat on heels resting on stacks of pale flesh. She looked over her shoulder. "Will you smoke a cigarette with me?" she asked.

Hailey blew a breath through smiling lips. "Why do you always want me to smoke a cigarette with you?" she asked. Wednesday collected her cigarettes and a lighter from the bottom of her bookshelf. She also grabbed a glass ashtray. She dragged a cherry colored bean bag chair across her bedroom.

"It's a disgusting habit I started a lo-o-ong time ago," Wednesday explained. "And, I feel like to sharing it with my friend." Wednesday parked a bean sack next to Hailey's. She plopped down next to her friend. She rested a glass dish on top of stripe covered thighs. She dangled a cancer stick from her lips. She opened a gold, Flippo lighter. She spun a flint. She suspended an orange flame in front of rolled up tobacco shards. Hailey inhaled a breath through her pale lips.

"I've smoked my mom's cigarettes before," Hailey admitted. "I'm just-- not really a 'smoker'." Hailey dangled fingers dotted with neon acrylic above Wednesday's lap. Wednesday exhaled a tube of tobacco fumes. She squeezed a cigarette filter between Hailey's thumb and index finger. Hailey plopped the end of her friend's cancer stick between her lips. She created a cyphon with mouth edges the color of strawberry flesh. She dragged Wednesday's coffin nail away from her lips with her first and second fingers. She rested the back of her head on the palm of her free hand. She exhaled a tube of white mist. "How do you get cigarettes, anyway?" Hailey inquired.

Wednesday shrugged. "I walk into a store and buy them." Hailey lifted Wednesday's cigarette out of a space between her lips. She squinted.

"You're not old enough," Hailey remarked. She handed Wednesday a smoldering tobacco tube. She studied her friend's teal irises. "Don't they ask you for I-D?"

Wednesday blew a breath through her lips. "Not very often," she responded. Wednesday extracted vapors with the edges of her mouth. "If they do, I just tell them I forgot it." Wednesday puffed out smoke rings. She gazed into her friend's emerald eye shutters. She shrugged. "And then, they sell them to me anyway."

Hailey chuckled. "You're not supposed to be able to do that!" she commented. Wednesday took a drag. She narrowed confused eyes. She raised her palms beside her face.

"What are they gonna do?" Wednesday asked. She exhaled tobacco fumes. "Arrest me for buying cigarettes? What the fuck??" Wednesday tapped ash into a glass bowl resting between her thighs. She handed her coffin nail to Hailey. Hailey lifted Wednesday's cigarette between the ends of her thumb and pointer finger.

"I think they can fine you," Hailey explained. She sank a nicotine stained tube between pressurized mouth rims. She looked into her friend's eyes. She yanked Wednesday's cigarette away from her lips with the first two fingers of her right hand. Wednesday stared at Hailey's glittering irises. She exhaled a short breath through her nostrils. She shook her head.

"That's fucking stupid," she responded. Hailey took a drag. She returned Wednesday's cancer stick. Hailey exhaled cigarette smoke. She formed kiss shapes with her lips. Tiny puffs of mist drifted out of Hailey's undressed mouth edges. Hailey's lips curled into a smile. Hailey faced her friend.

"I can't do it. I'm retarded." Wednesday smiled. She tapped cigarette ash into a glass tray.

"You have to practice," she explained. Wednesday cyphoned the end of her coffin nail. She inhaled a breath between her lips. She exhaled tobacco vapors. She puffed air between "o" shaped lips. Smoke rings drifted out of Wednesday's empty mouth rims. Wednesday studied the body of her cigarette. She took another drag. She handed her cancer stick to Hailey. Hailey cyphoned tobacco fumes. A tangerine ember wandered to the beginning of the coffin nail's filter paper. Hailey studied a long coal extending from the body of Wednesday's cigarette. She handed Wednesday her cancer stick. Hailey tilted her head back. She exhaled. She blew puffs between her lips. She just made smoke blobs. Wednesday watched her friend. She chuckled. Wednesday crammed the end of her cigarette into the bottom of her ashtray. Hailey pointed at her friend's bedspread.

"You mind if I lay down?" she asked.

Wednesday shook her head. "No," she responded. She checked a digital clock on her bedside table. She read bright blue digits. She smiled. "It's barely after ten." Hailey climbed into Wednesday's bed. She wrapped herself in Wednesday's fluffy, black quilt.

"I'm fuckin' exhausted," Hailey exhaled. Hailey sank the edge of her face into a pillow covered with a black sham. Wednesday wandered across her bedroom. She turned down her music device a little. She blew out all her bedroom candles. She returned to the edge of her bed. She slipped under the covers.

"I'll keep you company," Wednesday remarked.

"You're not gonna go to sleep, yet?" Hailey inquired. Wednesday situated herself next to her friend. She snuggled up under her blankie.

"I don't knoww--" Wednesday groaned. "I don't usually go to sleep this early." Hailey studied her friend's face from the tops of her glasses lenses. She smiled. Wednesday smiled back. "Come here--" she purred. Wednesday slipped her arms around her friend's narrow shoulders. Hailey cuddled on top of her friend's chest. She wrapped her biceps around Wednesday's trim stomach. Wednesday felt a gold plated earpiece poking the beginning of her breast. She studied her friend's pale face. "You're wearing your glasses, still." Wednesday gripped a dowel extending from the edge of Hailey's glasses lens. She dragged Hailey's spectacles off of her face. She folded them next to her bedside clock. Wednesday glided black spotted fingertips poking out of the sleeve of her shirt down soft skin surrounding Hailey's bicep. Hailey enjoyed gentle heat radiating from her friend's soft digits. She drifted into a lower level of consciousness.

"Haileyy--" Wednesday moaned.

"What is it, Wednesday?" Hailey forced out of limp mouth edges.

Wednesday stared at cherry red lights surrounding the edges of her ceiling. "You don't think Travis and them will come looking for us while we're sleeping?" Hailey's eyes popped open. Emeralds floated to the tops of Hailey's eye sockets.

"Aww, Wednesdayy--" Hailey purred. Hailey's emerald irises studied her friend's blurry face. "They said they were gonna keep-- checking the paper every day." Wednesday studied flames pouring out of her friend's scalp. She nodded.

"It'll say there were no bodies in your house in tomorrow's newspaper, right?"

Hailey focused on blurry, teal dots near the top of Wednesday's face. "I don't think they'll say whether there were bodies or not," Hailey explained. "I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to print that." Wednesday studied the edges of her friend's emerald eye shutters. She faced the ceiling.

"Hmmm--" she hummed. Hailey watched her friend's blurred facial features. She inhaled a breath between undressed lips.

"My mom's gun is in my backpack," Hailey remarked. Wednesday exhaled a chuckle. She looked down. She squinted. "It only holds two rounds," Hailey explained. "But, you can go get it if you want. If it makes you feel safe."

Wednesday exhaled a breath out of smiling lips. "Holy shit," she responded. "You had a gun this whole time? I didn't even know."

Hailey shrugged. "It's just a tiny little thing," she replied. "It's better than nothing." Wednesday studied her friend's pale cheeks. She laid the edges of her fingers along flame tinted strands hanging from Hailey's scalp. She dragged gentle digits down her friend's ginger locks. Hailey rested her head along the edge of her friend's chest. She closed her eyes.




Chapter 21: "Saturday"
Table of Contents

Hailey opened her eyes. She studied red Christmas lights surrounding the edges of her friend's bedroom ceiling. Without Hailey's glasses, cherry red bulbs looked like illuminated cotton wads the size of basketballs. Hailey smiled. She felt warm and secure. Her arms were still strapped around Wednesday's waist. Biceps and forearms wrapped in long shirt sleeves surrounded Hailey's shoulders. The girls were huddled underneath Wednesday's black quilt. Hailey dragged fingertips decorated with tangerine acrylic down shirt fabric sinking into the middle of Wednesday's back.

"Mmm--" Wednesday groaned. "Noo--" Wednesday inhaled through grouchy lips. "No-no-no-no--" Wednesday swiveled her shoulders. She ratcheted her arms away from her chest. She tightened her biceps. She squeezed her fingers into fists. She stretched arm muscles like old taffy. She looked over her shoulder. She studied bright blue digits illuminating the surface of her bedside clock. "Awww--" Wednesday groaned. Wednesday rolled onto her side. She wrapped her arms around Hailey's shoulders. "Hailey, noo--" Wednesday snarled. "It's five-forty-seven in the morningg--"

Hailey chuckled. "I'm getting up, Wednesday," Hailey explained.

"Mmmm--" Wednesday grumbled. She tightened her arms around Hailey's biceps. "Hailey, nooo--" Wednesday nuzzled her cheek on top of Hailey's. "Go back to sleepp." Hailey exhaled a laugh. She tugged Wednesday's elbow.

"Come on, Wednesday," Hailey instructed. "I gotta pee."

"Mmmmrr--" Wednesday groaned. Wednesday rolled onto her back. She sank ends of frustrated digits into the surfaces of her eyelids. She stretched soft eye flaps with nails coated in black acrylic. Wednesday's lips stretched apart. Wednesday yawned between edges of exhausted fingers. Hailey wandered around the end of Wednesday's bed. She snatched her glasses off of Wednesday's bedside table.

Hailey wandered out of a bathroom beside Wednesday's room. A commode flushed. Wednesday wandered out of her bedroom. She stood beside her friend. Knotted strands the color of asphalt poked out of Wednesday's scalp. Wednesday's uncoated lips stretched apart. Wednesday's eyelids squeezed together. Wednesday yawned. Wednesday stared into emeralds behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. She blinked hazy eyelids.

"God damnn you, Haileyy--" Wednesday grumbled.

Hailey chuckled. "Wednesday, you can go back to sleep," Hailey replied.

"I'm not goin'--" Wednesday snarled. Wednesday's lips ripped themselves apart. Her eyelids closed in front of her pale, blue irises. Wednesday yawned again. "huuuu--" Wednesday exhaled. Wednesday plopped exhausted fingertips between Hailey's shoulder blades. She shoved Hailey towards the kitchen. "I need coffeeee--" Wednesday groaned.

Wednesday's kitchen was furnished with stainless steel appliances. A gas stove fitted with shiny panels stood next to a refrigerator/freezer with vertical doors. A microwave oven framed with laminated iron was fitted above Wednesday's stove. Wednesday's bedroom and her parents' room were adjacent along a corner of the house. A full bathroom was constructed beside Wednesday's bedroom. A wall beside Wednesday's room led to the front door. The kitchen was laid out along a corner opposite Wednesday's parents' bedroom. The rest of the house was living area.

A divider covered with wood panels surrounded a corner of the kitchen extending into Wednesday's house. The surrounding wall was four feet tall. Short, wooden columns extended from the top edge of the kitchen divider. Wood slats fastened to tops of decorative tubes were two inches thick. A gap between the wall separating the kitchen and the edge of the house was the width of a door. A door beside the kitchen opening led to Wednesday's backyard. Hailey and Wednesday wandered across grey carpet covering the house's living area. The girls glided across black and white tiles lining Wednesday's kitchen floor. Checkered floor squares reminded Hailey of the ones in her bedroom.

Wednesday stumbled in front of a marble countertop. The stone workspace rested on top of wood cabinet doors. Matching cabinets hung above the counter. Wednesday opened a cupboard cover. She rested a shiny coffee tin next to a coffee drip machine. Wednesday's coffee maker was the size of a clothes drawer. The brewing device was trimmed with stainless steel. A plate forged from steel was attached to the upper, right corner of the coffee machine. Shiny letters formed into a metallic tag read "FUNN". Cabinets hanging above a stainless steel sink matched lower cabinets and planks decorating Wednesday's kitchen divider. Hailey switched on a fluorescent light under a row of cabinets beside the sink. Radiation like afternoon sunlight filled Wednesday's kitchen. Wednesday poured water into the coffee maker. She squeezed together irritated eyelids. She dangled a wrist surrounded by a black shirt sleeve in front of her eyes.

"Awww--" Wednesday grumbled. "Haileyy--" Hailey wandered to the opposite corner of the kitchen. She stood in front of Wednesday's refrigerator. An ice dispenser was built into a vertical freezer door. Hailey looked above her shoulder. A window above the kitchen sink overlooked Wednesday's backyard. Hailey opened the refrigerator. She looked around. Wednesday's eyes squeezed themselves shut. Her lips peeled apart. "We shouldd make pancakess--" Wednesday squeezed through a yawn. Hailey grabbed a carton of eggs. Apricot eyebrows pointed down the bridge of Hailey's nose.

"Fuck yeah, we should make pancakes," Hailey agreed. Hailey rifled through sandwich meats and sliced cheese. She took out a package of bacon. She also grabbed a pitcher of milk. Hailey set groceries on a counter between the refrigerator and the stove. Wednesday borrowed the milk carton. She plopped frosty, cream colored fluid into a mug of coffee. She sipped bean brew from a ceramic cup. Hailey gathered a frying pan from a cabinet near the sink. She collected a spatula from a porcelain tube sitting next to a stainless steel wash tub. Wednesday stood on her tip-toes beside her friend. She snagged a glass mixing bowl from a cabinet above the sink. Wednesday rested the crystal container next to the pitcher of milk. She plopped the edge of her coffee mug between her salmon tinted lips. She pointed at the mixing bowl.

"Put some butter in there," she instructed. Hailey grabbed a stick of butter from Wednesday's refrigerator. She unfastened a paper wrapper decorated with colorful artwork. She rested a yellow brick beside the mixing bowl. Wednesday handed Hailey a butter knife. Hailey dangled a stainless steel blade above a log of churned fat.

"How much?" she inquired. Wednesday sipped hot, cream flavored coffee. She grabbed the end of Hailey's knife. She sank a flat plate into thickened curd an inch and a half from the beginning of the butter stick.

"That much," Wednesday explained. Hailey snickered. She chopped off the end of the butter brick. She dropped it into the glass bowl Wednesday collected. Wednesday poked a chunk of churned dairy. "It's too cold," she remarked. Wednesday opened a briefcase shaped door above the stove. She rested the bowl on a glass turntable. She poked vinyl stickers covering momentary switches. The microwave ran for ten seconds. Wednesday slurped milk flavored coffee. She sank her fingers into a plastic button beside the microwave door. The nuke box's cover wandered out of the way. Wednesday rested the glass bowl next to the milk. She poked the butter brick her friend dropped in. She pointed at the mixing bowl. "Put some milk in there," Wednesday ordered. Hailey tilted a glass pitcher above a crystal container. She looked into her friend's pale irises.

"How much?" Hailey asked. Wednesday sipped steaming bean soup. She motioned towards the counter with her coffee mug.

"Until I say," Wednesday responded. Wednesday grabbed the skillet Hailey found. She rested it on a stove burner. She turned a knob. The stove clicked. Tiny flames erupted below the base of the frying pan. Wednesday watched her friend trickle milk into a glass bowl. She smirked. She waited until the butter brick was submerged. "That's good," Wednesday remarked. Wednesday pointed at the glass container. "Now, put an egg in there." Wednesday grabbed the butter knife. She sliced off a square of churned milk fat. She plopped it near the middle of the skillet. Hailey opened the egg carton. Fingertips spotted with tangerine nail polish converged around a calcium ellipse. Hailey looked into Wednesday's teal eye shutters.

"Just one?" Hailey asked. Wednesday tilted a ceramic mug away from her lips. Her teeth showed between a set of grinning lips.

"You don't know how to make pancakes, do you?" Wednesday requisitioned.

Hailey chuckled. "Man-- fuck you!" she grumbled. "Tell me what to do."

Wednesday motioned towards Hailey's fingers with the rim of her coffee cup. "Break that mother fucker, and put it in there," she instructed. Wednesday turned around. She grabbed a wooden spoon poking out of a porcelain column beside the sink. She handed it to Hailey. Hailey beat the egg, butter, and milk together. Wednesday unhinged a cabinet door above the mixing bowl. She opened a glass vial. She trickled brown liquid near the middle of Hailey's mixture. Hailey smelled vanilla. Wednesday rested a glass jar beside the mixing bowl. She lifted a steel spoon out of a column of glass. She sprinkled sugar on top of thickened milk. Hailey watched granules sink into pale goop.

"How do you know how much to put?" Hailey asked.

"Just stir it," Wednesday responded. Wednesday switched jars. She used a steel scoop the thickness of a tea cup. She sprinkled flour into the mixture. "Don't over-mix it," Wednesday warned. Hailey looked up. Confused eyebrows lifted above Hailey's emerald irises. Wednesday moved a glass jar away from Hailey's elbow. She grabbed an orange box from the cabinet above the pancake mixture. She sprinkled baking soda on top of Hailey's swirling spoon. Wednesday switched to a cardboard can with a blue label. She sifted salt on top of pancake batter clumps. She poked her finger into mixed up goo. She sucked dairy folded flour off the end of her curious digit. She licked sweet batter coating the surfaces of her lips. She grabbed the sugar jar. She sprinkled more sugar on top of the pancake batter.

"Keep mixing," Wednesday told Hailey. Wednesday put up the cane sweetener. She opened a drawer below Hailey's workspace. She took out a steel measuring spoon. The spoon's scoop was the size of a medicine cup. Wednesday sank the spoon into Hailey's pancake mixture. She plopped down batter like applesauce onto the surface of a buttered skillet. She smiled. She looked at Hailey. She handed Hailey the measuring scoop. She pointed at the surface of a heated, slicked up pan. "Put another one," she instructed. Hailey collected pancake goop. She drizzled liquid flour beside her friend's flapjack. Hailey studied Wednesday's pale, blue irises. Strawberry lips wandered to the edge of Hailey's face.

"How do you know when to flip them?" she asked.

"They make bubbles," Wednesday responded. Wednesday shook the frying pan above tiny flames erupting from a stove burner. She studied the spatula Hailey collected. She wandered beside the sink. She snatched a rubber grip poking out of a porcelain container. She handed Hailey a spatula with a thinner scoop. The girls stacked pancakes on a ceramic plate. Wednesday dropped a kitchen towel on top. Hailey and Wednesday fried twelve strips of bacon. Hailey beat four eggs with milk. She sprinkled salt and pepper on top. She used wooden spice shakers from a dining table standing near the center of the room. Wednesday's kitchen table matched cabinet doors and a surrounding wall. Hailey cooked the eggs in bacon grease. The girls served themselves flapjacks, eggs, and bacon on plates from a cupboard above the sink. They slopped butter on waxy cake discs the color of scotch. They heated syrup in a coffee mug. They drizzled it on stacks of hot flapjacks.

Hailey poured a glass of milk. She plopped down on a chair next to Wednesday's dining table. Hailey sank points poking out of a stainless steel fork into disc shaped hotcakes. She carried soggy wheat wedges between her teeth. Points of molars crushed carbonated fluffs soaked with maple flavored liquid. Melted butter coated slick gluten surfaces surrounding risen batter. Hailey sipped ice cold milk. Wednesday dropped a newspaper above Hailey's plate. Hailey read tall, black letters printed across the front page. They read "Glory High Slasher Kills Five". Wednesday sat next to her friend. She studied Hailey's colorful face above flapjacks stacked on her plate. She shook her head. Hailey read a paragraph. She looked up.

"Did you happen to look for anything about the house?" Hailey inquired. Wednesday stared into her friend's emerald irises. She looked at her plate. She pounded stainless steel points into the edges of her pancakes. She yanked a stack of hotcake slivers off of a porcelain dish. Points of fork prongs grinded a ceramic surface. Wednesday stuffed syrup coated flour wedges between her teeth. Slices of waxy cake discs puffed out Wednesday's cheek.

"Nope," Wednesday responded. Hailey watched her friend chomp butter coated maple batter. She flipped through the newspaper's A section. She found an article about her house on the last page. It was two paragraphs long. It did not mention anyone being killed in the fire. It revealed the police were not releasing any information about the incident. Hailey folded Wednesday's newspaper together. She laid it near the middle of the dining table. She crunched bacon between her teeth. She looked towards the back end of Wednesday's house. She stared into space. Wednesday chopped off edges of syrup soaked cake discs. She dragged cooked batter off of fork prongs with her teeth. She mashed carbonated wheat with frustrated molars. She studied her friend's emerald irises. She licked syrup coated lips. She looked at her plate. She sank stainless steel points into maple drenched flapjacks. "What does it sayy--?" Wednesday groaned. Hailey studied Wednesday's pale cheeks. She smiled.

"It doesn't discuss whether there were bodies," Hailey explained. Wednesday chewed carb rich batter. She nodded. Hailey and Wednesday finished eating breakfast. Then, the girls got ready to go to the mall. Hailey wore a yellow turtleneck and dark wash jeans. Cuffs of denim legs hovered above necks of brown boots. Points of tan insteps surrounded Hailey's toes. Wednesday wore a long jacket with a sewn in belt. Wednesday's flannel coat was decorated with red and black plaid. The body of Wednesday's jacket surrounded a black turtleneck. Legs of black jeans sank into necks of black high top sneakers. Baseball sized holes were torn into the knees of Wednesday's jeans. White laces strapped Wednesday's shoes around her feet. Groups of three white stripes extended from the laces of Wednesday's high top sneakers to white mats fastened along the bottoms. Wednesday joined Hailey in the living room.

"I've been thinking," Wednesday remarked. Wednesday plopped down on a recliner covered with grey fabric. She sat adjacent to her friend. "We should burn the clothes you were wearing, yesterday." Hailey gazed into her friend's pale, blue irises. She nodded. Wednesday squinted. She inhaled a breath between ruby stained lips. "You told me you disabled the school's cameras--"

"That's right," Hailey responded. Hailey looked across a wooden coffee table. A cuckoo clock hung above a television stand. It was 7:27. Hailey wandered in front of a square window near the front of Wednesday's living room. She cycled a loop of string hanging next to edges of craft wood mini blinds. Cellulose shutters tilted towards the window. Hailey looked at the sky. Different types of clouds floated across a dimly lit canopy. Long, stratus puffs extended in front of morning sunlight. Tiny cumulus clouds hovered below. Morning vapor fluffs varied in color like rainbow stripes. Some were black as coal. Thick grass blades the color of jade filled Wednesday's yard. Linda Park was visible across the street.

"If we leave now--" Wednesday remarked. "The mall will probably be open by the time we get there." Hailey studied swings near the edge of the park. She closed the blinds. The girls wandered outside. Wednesday closed and locked her house's front door. Hailey and Wednesday headed down a concrete walkway that split Wednesday's front yard in two. The girls turned right when they reached the edge of the yard. They followed sidewalk squares around a corner. They headed north. Wednesday popped a cigarette between her ruby red lips. She flipped open a gold plated lighter. She sparked up her coffin nail. Hailey tugged yellow sweater sleeves surrounding her biceps.

"Thanks for the clothes, Wednesday," Hailey remarked. Wednesday looked beside her. She exhaled a tube of tobacco mist from ruby stained lips. She studied pastel fabric stretched around the curves of Hailey's upper body. She looked below her friend's back. Teal irises followed navy blue denim strapped around Hailey's tiny biscuits. Hailey studied her friend's pale cheeks. Lips coated with carnation gloss formed a smile along the lower edge of Hailey's face. Hailey wove tiny fingers in front of pentagonal pockets stitched to the backside of Wednesday's jeans. "What the fuck-- are you looking at??" Hailey demanded.

Wednesday's ruby mouth edges curled into a grin. "I'm checking out your cute little butt!" Wednesday responded.

"Well, it's creeping me out!" Hailey shouted back. Wednesday looked into her friend's emerald irises. She smiled. She took a drag from her cigarette. She inhaled between ruby mouth rims.

"Well-- your ass is lookin' pretty hot in those jeans, Hailey," Wednesday explained. Hailey grinned like an idiot. It made her cheek muscles hurt.

"Fuckk you--" Hailey squeezed through smiling lips. Hailey's emerald eye shutters glanced at Wednesday. Hailey looked behind plaid covering her friend's denim wrapped booty. Wednesday looked beside her. She lifted red and black checks hanging from the bottom of her coat. Hailey faced forward. "You got a skinny little butt," Hailey commented.

Slender eyebrows lifted behind Wednesday's bangs. "YOU got a skinny butt!" Wednesday shouted back. Malley Mall was four blocks north of Wednesday's house. It spanned ten blocks along the east edge of Main Street-- the road the girls were following. Malley Mall was as long as it was wide. It was two stories tall. It was surrounded by walls of golden yellow bricks. Bold, white letters poked out of mortared mud blocks above department store entrances. Four hallways of strip shops enclosed a rest area. Artificial trees, tables, and benches filled a square shaped area between rows of public venues. A dome made of glass panes was constructed above the mall's rest area. Malley Mall housed sixty-two department stores and a food court with seventeen restaurants. The mall was packed. When Hailey and Wednesday arrived, the parking lot was filling up. Almost every store was open for business.

Hailey and Wednesday searched three different clothing stores. Wednesday could tell Hailey was not used to shopping for clothes. Wednesday had trouble getting her friend to try things on. Hailey didn't understand the value of clothing Wednesday pointed out. Hailey tried on two pairs of pants after browsing three stores. The girls made their way through C.J. Nickell. Wednesday started grabbing things. She handed Hailey a collection of garments. She ordered her friend to try something on. Wednesday sat on a bench outside the girl's dressing room. Arms wrapped in red and black plaid were folded on top of black denim tubes covering Wednesday's lap. Toes of black high tops faced each other below exposed kneecaps. Wednesday waited for her friend to exit a thin door covered with a tall mirror.

Hailey wandered out, shyly. A white shirt decorated with ruffles hung from Hailey's shoulders. A denim pencil skirt was strapped around Hailey's hips. It formed around the curves of Hailey's thighs and surrounded her knees. Hailey looked into her friend's curious irises. She gritted nervous teeth between gloss coated lips. Wednesday tapped her teeth with a fingernail coated in black acrylic. She studied her friend's outfit. Wednesday's pupils traced navy blue denim molded around Hailey's lower body. Wednesday lifted her index finger beside her cheek.

"Turn around," she instructed. Hailey swiveled on toes decorated with lime green nail polish. She looked over her shoulder. Wednesday studied curves formed by navy blue fabric stretched around Hailey's hips and thighs. Her fingers dropped on top of her lap. "Mann-- you look good in that skirt," she remarked.

"Yeah?" Hailey inquired. She squeezed uncertain teeth around the corner of her lower lip. Wednesday hopped up. She swiveled the dressing room door in front of her friend. Hailey stared at her reflection. She glided fingertips dotted with tangerine nail polish over denim formed around her waist.

"Turn to the left," Wednesday ordered. Hailey rotated ninety degress. She studied white silk surrounding her shoulders. She traced navy blue fabric curving away from her spine. Dark denim stretched over the peaks of Hailey's hiny. "Look-- at your ass!" Wednesday commented. The corners of Hailey's lips curled into a smile. Hailey chuckled. "That looks sooo good on you!" Hailey gazed into her friend's pale irises. Uncertain teeth showed between Hailey's grinning lips. She looked down. She fluttered silk ruffles surrounding the collar of her top.

"I'm not sure about this shirt--" Hailey grumbled. Wednesday folded arms wrapped in plaid over her chest. She studied ruffled silk hanging from Hailey's upper body. She swiveled ruby lips to the edge of her face.

"Yeahh--" Wednesday groaned. "Not so much." Wednesday pointed inside the dressing room. "Show me something else," she instructed. Hailey nodded. She wandered into a tiny closet. Wednesday's eyebrows pointed at the inner corners of her eyes. "You-- try something!" she ordered. Hailey exhaled a breath through grinning lips. She locked the dressing room door. Wednesday reclaimed her spot on a nearby bench. After a couple of minutes, Hailey reappeared. Hailey wore a long, maroon sweater fastened in front of a black blouse. Legs of navy blue jeans were stretched around Hailey's legs. Necks of black, leather boots were strapped around Hailey's calves. Points of cow hide footwear covered Hailey's toes. Wednesday studied her friend's outfit. She grinned. She pointed at Hailey with the fingers of her left and right hands.

"I love it!" Wednesday remarked. She hopped up. Hailey swiveled the dressing room door towards a changing closet. She studied garments surrounding her limbs and trunk. Hailey extended the toe of her right boot. She studied wads of shiny leather surrounding her lower leg. She looked into her friend's teal irises.

"Yeah??" she inquired. Wednesday raised her palms in front of her biceps. Wednesday's brows lifted above the peaks of her eye sockets.

"You should get-- all of that," Wednesday exhaled through smiling lips. Hailey puffed out an excited breath through grinning mouth edges. She stared at her reflection. Wednesday nodded. "Okay--" she grumbled. She smacked her palms together. "Show me something else." Hailey disappeared into the dressing room. Wednesday sat down. She felt like smoking ten cigarettes at once. She studied a clock hanging from a wall above Hailey's dressing room. It was nearly ten. Wednesday helped Hailey pick out enough clothes to get by for a while. Then, the girls found a register and cashed out. They headed for the nearest parking lot. Hailey reached for a flat door handle made out of thick steel. Wednesday grabbed Hailey's arm. She dragged her friend behind a nearby clothes rack. Hailey spun on toes of borrowed boots. She faced black dresses hanging from a chrome plated bar. She looked beside her.

"The fuckk??" Hailey demanded. Wednesday's pale, blue irises stared at pitch black garments. Wednesday licked ruby red beeswax coating her lips. She eased nervous fingers between shoulders of hanging dresses. She tilted tubes of black fabric out of the way. Hailey studied Travis and Jennifer's giggling, narcissistic faces. Travis' shaggy, black hair shook above his smirking cheeks. A black, leather trench coat hung from Travis' shoulders. Travis' long jacket surrounded a black shirt, black jeans, and black boots. Jennifer wore a white blouse. A grey skirt wrapped with intersecting, black lines hung from Jennifer's waist. Legs wrapped in black nylons descended from the base of Jennifer's skirt. Jennifer's hose wrapped ankles disappeared into black high heels. A maroon jacket surrounded Jennifer's shoulders.

Hailey looked beside her. Wednesday stared back. Teal irises gazed below ends of black bangs. Wednesday inhaled frosty air between ruby red lips. She exhaled a mournful breath. Apricot eyebrows flattened Hailey's emerald irises. Hailey shook her head. The girls watched between curtains of black dresses. Paul and Vicky wandered up. Vicky wore a brown, leather jacket. Vicky's cow hide coat surrounded a red shirt. Toes of brown, leather boots poked out of legs of bell bottom jeans. Paul wore a red shirt. Horizontal white stripes wrapped the chest of Paul's shirt. Dark blue jeans descended from the waist of Paul's top. Ends of denim tubes surrounded necks of red, canvas shoes. A thick, white coat hung from Paul's shoulders. Travis folded arms surrounded by leather columns in front of his chest.

"Tell me you got some good newws--" Travis hummed. Sapphire lenses covering Paul's eyes faced Travis' cornflower irises. Paul's lips formed an "o" shape. Paul raised his palms in front of his biceps.

"The fuck you talkin' about?" he inquired.

Travis' bushy eyebrows flattened his cornflower blue eye shutters. "Did you get some fry, or what??" he demanded. Paul showed Travis his palm. He tilted his wrist in front of his chest.

"Oh, fuck yeah--" Paul responded. "Of course." Wednesday looked beside her. She studied Hailey's pale cheeks.

"Fry??" Wednesday whispered. Hailey looked into her friend's teal irises. She squinted.

"I think they meann--" Hailey sifted through thoughts. She licked carnation gloss coating her lips. "Lysergic acid diethylamide?" Wednesday nodded. She crinkled confused eye sockets.

"The fuck is THAT??" Wednesday rasped.

"L-S-D," Hailey quietly responded. Wednesday's eyebrows lifted above her ice shaded irises. She formed an "o" with ruby mouth rims. Wednesday and Hailey peeked through bodies of black garments.

"Church?" Jennifer asked.

Paul shrugged. "Where else?" he requisitioned. "I'll meet you guys at Vicky's, tonight. We'll take some before we go." Travis and Jennifer nodded.

"Is Martin coming?" Jennifer asked.

"He said he'd meet us there," Paul explained. Lips below octagonal sapphires formed into a grin. "He doesn't wanna drop with us, though."

Travis chuckled. "He never wants to drop with us," he responded.

Paul shrugged. "Meh-- Fuck him, then. More for us." Paul pointed over his shoulder. "We're gonna check out this new store in here. You guys coming?"

Travis nodded. "Fuck yeah, mann--" he purred. "Let's roll." Travis laid ginger fingertips along the small of his girlfriend's back. He nudged Jennifer past Paul and Vicky. Paul squeezed his scrawny fingers around Vicky's. Paul and Vicky walked next to Travis and Jennifer. Hailey and Wednesday crouched behind a line of hanging dresses. A pale forehead covered by curls of black bangs emerged from the edge of a chrome plated clothes rack. Pale blue irises peeked beside ends of black garments. A flame tinted curtain hung beside the opposite edge. Emerald irises stared behind panes of rectangular glass. Apricot eyebrows pointed down the bridge of a tiny nose. The girls wandered out. They stood in front of a line of black clothes. Wednesday folded arms wrapped in red and black plaid over her chest. She looked into her friend's emerald eye shutters. She squinted.

"Church??" Wednesday inquired. Hailey looked beside her. She studied her friend's baby blue irises. An image of a blurry, stained glass window flashed inside Hailey's mind. Hailey looked at a concrete floor inside her head. Glints of colored light illuminated deteriorating cement. Hailey stared at her friend's pale eye shutters. Her gloss coated lips formed an "o" shape.

"Ohh, shitt--" Hailey groaned. Wednesday searched her friend's emerald eyes. She raised confused palms in front of her hips.

"W-What??" Wednesday requisitioned. Hailey's carnation coated mouth closed. Hailey nodded. The left corners of Hailey's lips curled into a smirk. Plastic sacks containing clothes dangled from the fingers of Wednesday's right hand. Wednesday grabbed her friend's biceps. Slender brows lifted above her eye sockets. Wednesday wobbled her friend's sweater wrapped shoulders. "Hailey-- whatt??" Wednesday demanded. Hailey licked gloss coated lips. She squeezed fingers dotted with tangerine nail polish around her friend's anxious digits. She jiggled Wednesday's soft knuckles.

"Let's get back to your house," Hailey suggested. "We're gonna call Lloyd."




Chapter 22: "The Church"
Table of Contents

The girls got back to Wednesday's house at 11:17. They made lunch. They scrubbed dishes. Then, they started washing Hailey's new clothes. Hailey felt like calling Lloyd and asking for his help. But, she couldn't decide if that was what she really wanted to do. When Wednesday saw what her friend did, she nearly lost her mind. Hailey had no idea how Lloyd would react. She could tell Lloyd liked her-- a lot. She wondered if Lloyd would be understanding. She considered the possibility that Lloyd could be willing to help drive Hailey to the Church. But even then, he might not be willing to help Hailey execute Travis and his friends. Lloyd might chicken out. He might drive off before Hailey was finished. Hailey had no idea. For all Hailey knew, Lloyd might respond by-- immediately calling the police. Hailey wasn't even sure Wednesday wouldn't rat her out. Hailey felt like she had nothing to lose. But, she couldn't be sure she was making the right decision.

The girls discussed calling Lloyd all afternoon. When the cuckoo clock above Wednesday's living room television showed it was after six, the girls were still philosophizing. Wednesday sat on her living room couch. She tumbled an unlit cigarette between her fingers. Wednesday finally calmed down a little. She was able to discuss Travis and his friends with Hailey without feeling like she wanted to strangle her friend. Several times during the day, Wednesday blew up and left the room for a little while. Then, she came back and continued scheming with her friend. It's the kind of person Wednesday was. She shifted violently between emotional extremes. She was always that way. What Hailey did the day before drove Wednesday to her breaking point. It would make or break Hailey and Wednesday's relationship.

Hailey rested on a recliner across from Wednesday's living room television. Her emerald eye shutters stared through rectangular panes surrounding the bridge of her nose. Hailey studied her friend's pale cheeks. She glanced at Wednesday's baby blue irises. Wednesday stared back. She blinked. Wednesday tapped a cellulose cigarette filter on top of her knuckles.

"What's on your mind, Hailey?" Wednesday requisitioned. Wednesday plopped a tube of white filter paper between her ruby red lips. Hailey studied a tobacco tube hanging from the edges of her friend's mouth. She licked carnation gloss coating her lips.

"Let's say I do call Lloyd," Hailey remarked. Wednesday sighed. She yanked her coffin nail away from her lips. She looked away from her friend's face. She stared into space. She inhaled a breath between ruby mouth rims.

"Okay," Wednesday responded. Hailey traced curves of pale facial features between the ends of Wednesday's bangs and the edges of her hair. Wednesday swallowed. She looked into her friend's eyes. Hailey opened gloss stained lips.

"Would you-- go with us?" Wednesday stared at emerald shutters surrounding her friend's pupils. She leaned forward. She rested elbows surrounded by plaid jacket sleeves on pale kneecaps poking out of black jeans legs. She folded her fingers together. The end of Wednesday's cigarette poked out of woven digits. Wednesday rested her lips along the edges of her knuckles. Sapphires wandered between Wednesday's mascara coated eyelashes. Wednesday closed her eyes. She exhaled a heavy breath from her nostrils. Hailey watched her friend think. She was clearly troubled. Hailey stared at Wednesday's closed eye flaps. Wednesday's eyes opened. Pale, blue irises gazed into the lenses of Hailey's glasses. Wednesday lifted ruby lips off of her fingers. She inhaled a sharp breath.

"I keep thinking about that-- fuckin' Martin guy," Wednesday snarled.

Hailey nodded. "Vicky's dad," she responded. Wednesday stared at her friend's emerald eye shutters. Her head bobbed up and down. She inhaled between a set of disgusted lips.

"He was gonna fuckin' kill us, Hailey--" Wednesday grumbled. Wednesday shook angry fingers in front of her cheeks. "Her dad." Hailey gazed into her friend's eyes. She opened her lips to speak. Nothing came out. Wednesday sank into her living room sofa. She exhaled a frosty breath. She folded her arms over her chest. She crossed her legs. She forced quivering lips apart. "If you wanna try-- calling him," Wednesday remarked. Wednesday squeezed nervous lips together. She nodded. "Then, I'll go with you." Wednesday licked ruby beeswax coating the edges of her mouth. "I don't know-- how much help I'll bee--" Wednesday squeezed through peaks of short sobs. The corners of Wednesday's lips curved towards her chin. Her eyes crinkled. Hot droplets leaked out of the ends of Wednesday's eye sockets. Wednesday inhaled a shaky breath through heavy lips. "But, I'll go with youu--"

Hailey watched her friend's quivering face. She hopped up. She wandered across Wednesday's living room. She sat next to her friend. She curled her tiny fingers around Wednesday's. She gazed into Wednesday's sopping wet irises. Hailey lifted the fingers of her free hand. She glided fingertips dotted with tangerine nail polish along black strands hanging from Wednesday's scalp. Hailey soothed Wednesday's chin length locks. She licked her lips. She inhaled a frosty breath.

"I'm gonna-- call him," Hailey squeezed out. Wednesday gazed into the lenses of her friend's glasses. She swallowed nervous spit. Hailey inhaled a breath through gloss coated mouth edges. "Are you gonna sit here with me while I call him?" Hailey inquired. Wednesday exhaled a nervous chuckle between rubbery lips. She squeezed her eyelids together. Ends of hot tears trickled out of the corners of her eyes. Wednesday reached up. She swatted saline droplets off of her cheeks. She inhaled a heavy breath. She looked into Hailey's emerald eyes.

"I'm not going-- anywhere," Wednesday groaned. She exhaled a breath through smiling lips. "I gotta hear this." Wednesday licked ruby coated mouth edges. She pointed towards the other end of the house. "Go get my phone," she instructed. "Before you lose your nerve." Hailey exhaled a nervous chuckle. She hopped up. She hurried into Wednesday's bedroom. Wednesday rested wobbly legs side by side. She folded her arms on top of her knees. She dropped her forehead on top. Hailey wandered back to Wednesday's sofa. She plopped down next to her friend.

A sheet of notebook paper dangled from the fingers of Hailey's left hand. The fingers of Hailey's opposite hand were strapped around a red, plastic telephone receiver. Circuit boards were visible through transparent, polystyrene panels surrounding the body of Wednesday's cordless phone. Wednesday lifted her face off of her arms. She squeezed nervous fingers between her thighs. She exhaled a heavy breath through puffed up cheeks. She looked beside her. Hailey studied her friend's pale irises.

"Okayy--" Hailey groaned. "You ready, Wednesday?" Wednesday gazed into the lenses of Hailey's glasses. She nodded. Hailey pressed a plastic button. She pressed a plastic grill against the edges of her ear. A digital tone compressed Hailey's eardrum. Hailey typed the phone number Lloyd scratched down Thursday night. She listened to a different tone. It stopped. It repeated. Hailey heard a click. Lloyd's voice hummed inside Hailey's ear canal.

"Mmm--" Lloyd purred. "Y-yesss??" Hailey dangled a microphone covered with transparent plastic in front of her lips. She exhaled a nervous chuckle.

"L-Lloyd--" Hailey squeezed out. "Hi."

Hailey heard Lloyd breathe out an excited laugh. "Haileyy--" Lloyd hummed. "You called." Hailey's gloss coated lips curled into a smile. She choked back nervous laughter. "You're-- on my phone. Alright!" Hailey exhaled a long sigh. Her mouth felt like it was made out of rubber. Hailey squeezed her lips together. She swallowed nervous spit.

"Oh, Lloydd--" Hailey groaned. Hailey dropped her forehead on the tips of her fingers. She exhaled a heavy breath. She lifted her pale face. She inhaled through her lips. "I've got-- problems," Hailey explained. Hailey heard Lloyd suck thoughtful spit between his tongue and his teeth. There was a pause.

"Hailey, this is the part where you tell me you are in fact-- the Glory High slasher," Lloyd's voice responded. "And you killed four of Travis Griffin's friends, yesterday." Hailey's skull collapsed between her shoulder blades. Hailey's eyes squeezed themselves shut. Hailey exhaled a frosty breath through puffed out cheeks. She faced forward. She inhaled through gloss coated lips.

"Lloyd, I--" Hailey squeezed out. "I murdered them." There was a pause. Hailey squeezed fingers decorated with tangerine nail polish between navy blue denim surrounding her thighs. She licked nervous mouth edges.

"And-- Ms. Goodwin?" Lloyd requisitioned. Hailey lifted gloss coated lips off of gritted teeth. She forced air to the back of her throat.

"Y-Yes," Hailey forced out. There was another pause. Lloyd inhaled a breath.

"Hailey, they tried to kill you the other night-- didn't they?" Lloyd asked. Hailey squeezed her eyelids together. She felt tears collecting on lashes coated with mascara. She nodded.

"Yess--" she squeezed through a tight throat. She opened her eyes. She inhaled nails. She exhaled a shaky sob. Hailey handed Wednesday a folded sheet of notebook paper. She swatted droplets of saline away from the corners of her eyes.

"Aww, Haileyy--" Lloyd purred. "I knew that's what happened." Hailey exhaled a sharp breath. She squeezed quivering lips together. "Those mother fuckers--" Lloyd spat. Hailey swallowed. She wrinkled tear soaked eyelids. She shook her head.

"How did you-- know that??" she demanded. Lloyd's voice erupted from a plastic grill covering Wednesday's telephone speaker.

"Because--" Lloyd groaned. "They killed my brother." Hailey looked beside her. She stared into her friend's teal irises. Hailey lifted Wednesday's telephone receiver. She tapped a button near the microphone. Lloyd's voice erupted from a speaker attached to the body of the handset. "Let me put it to you this way, Hailey--" Lloyd's voice purred. "If *you* didn't kill them-- I *would* have." Slender eyebrows lifted above Wednesday's pale irises. Wednesday formed an "o" with ruby mouth edges. Hailey switched her friend's receiver out of speaker mode. She squeezed a plastic grill against the edges of her ear. "But, you didn't get them all," Lloyd continued. "You-- set off the fire alarm? Accidentally??"

Hailey licked her lips. "I know-- where they're gonna be tonight," Hailey explained.

"Where?" Lloyd demanded.

Hailey shrugged. "Some place called-- 'the Church'?"

"Aww, fuckk--" Lloyd grumbled. "*I* know where that is."

Apricot eyebrows lifted above Hailey's emerald irises. "You do??"

"I told you, Hailey--" Lloyd responded. "My brother Sal was friends with those fuckos. He used to go the Church all the time. He showed me where it is." Hailey lifted fingers decorated with neon nail polish. She curled tiny digits into a fist. She dragged crumpled nightcrawlers towards her chest. She gritted her teeth. "Where are you, Hailey?" Lloyd requisitioned.

Hailey inhaled a breath between gloss coated lips. "I'm at my friend Wednesday's house."

"She-- knowws??" Lloyd inquired. Hailey looked beside her. She studied Wednesday's pale irises.

"She's my best friend," Hailey explained. "I couldn't hide this from her." The corners of Wednesday's ruby red lips curled into a smile. Hailey faced forward. "You know who she is, right?" Hailey asked.

"She's the dark haired girl," Lloyd replied. "The one you always sit with in class." There was a pause. "Is-- she gonna help?" Hailey looked into her friend's teal eyes. She inhaled a sharp breath.

"She said she would-- try," Hailey squeezed out. She covered quivering lips with ends of tangerine spotted fingers. Wednesday lifted tiny digits. She stroked flame tinted strands hanging from her friend's scalp.

"Give me her address," Lloyd instructed. "I'll come pick you girls up." Hailey imagined sitting under a picnic awning at the park. Rain poured from edges of a tin roof. Hailey studied tall, white numbers fastened to the surface of Wednesday's door. She kept reading them to herself.

"Sixty-four fifty-six Linda Street," Hailey responded. Hailey listened to Lloyd writing. He stopped.

"Is that by Linda Park?" Lloyd inquired.

"It's right across the street," Hailey replied. "I can see it from Wednesday's living room windows." There was a pause.

"I'll be there in about-- fifteen minutes," Lloyd explained. "You girls get ready."

Hailey exhaled a long breath. "Okay," she responded. Hailey tapped a plastic button poking out of the surface of Wednesday's telephone receiver. She rested a calling device decorated with transparent polystyrene on Wednesday's coffee table. She collapsed on sofa fluffs. She folded arms wrapped in yellow sweater sleeves on top of her stomach. Wednesday studied pale facial features poking out of her friend's flame tinted locks. She plopped down fingers spotted with black nail polish above her kneecap.

"What-- just happened??" Wednesday demanded. Emeralds wandered to the corners of Hailey's eyes. Hailey studied her friend's teal irises. She inhaled through lips coated with carnation pink gloss.

"Lloyd had a brother," Hailey explained. Fifteen minutes later, the girls heard a car parking outside. Hailey sat with her red backpack in her lap. She hopped up. She carried her book bag next to Wednesday's living room window. She peaked through mini blinds made of wood strips. Lloyd's baby blue Cammy was parked next to a curb beside the edge of Wednesday's front yard. The setting sun reflected from the surface of Lloyd's windshield. Hailey slung tomato red harnesses over her shoulders. She faced Wednesday's couch. "He's here," Hailey reported. The girls wandered to the front door. Hailey swiveled a rectangle of stained wood out of her way. Lloyd stood beside the driver's side of his car. He closed the door. He looked towards Wednesday's storm door. Hailey gazed back. She studied shaggy, chocolate brown strands hanging in front of Lloyd's eyes.

Hailey opened her friend's storm door. She stepped onto concrete squares dividing Wednesday's yard. Wednesday followed. She closed the front door and locked it. Lloyd walked around the front end of his Cammy. He stood beside his car's passenger's side front fender. YKC artwork showed between the buttons of Lloyd's faded, black jacket. Wads of worn out blue jeans descended Lloyd's legs to necks of sloppy, black sneakers. Dark brown irises followed Hailey across cement tiles. Shaggy sideburns poked out of Lloyd's pale cheeks. A lit cigarette hung from lips below a curtain of shaggy hair. Thick fingers extending from the end of Lloyd's jacket sleeve lifted beside sideburn hairs poking out of his cheek. Lloyd's thumb and index finger dragged a smoldering tobacco tube away from Lloyd's mouth.

"Hi, Hailey," Lloyd exhaled through pale smoke. Toes of brown, leather boots carried Hailey across a row of concrete. Hailey crashed into Lloyd's muscular chest. She crushed Lloyd's ribs with grateful arms. She buried her face in yellow and red vinyl constructing YKC's band logo. Lloyd tossed what was left of his cigarette beside the edge of the sidewalk. He threw his arms around Hailey's sweater wrapped shoulders. He squeezed Hailey against his chest. He rested his sideburn covered cheek on flame tinted filaments pouring out of Hailey's scalp. He could feel Hailey shivering. Hailey's jiggling biceps wobbled Lloyd's ribs. Hailey inhaled a sharp breath between gloss coated lips.

"I should've told you what happened--" Hailey groaned.

"Aww, Haileyy--" Lloyd purred. Lloyd reached behind Hailey's neck. He stroked ginger strands hanging between Hailey's shoulder blades. He inhaled between parted teeth. "You didn't have to tell me anything. Okay?" Hailey tightened closed eyelids. Her face shook on top of Lloyd's chest. Lloyd lifted his cheek off of Hailey's head. He looked into pale irises below the ends of Wednesday's bangs. "Hello, Wednesday," Lloyd remarked.

Wednesday spotted shiny coals between strands of Lloyd's shaggy hair. "Hi," she responded. Lloyd felt Hailey's arms sliding down the edges of his ribs. Lloyd let go of Hailey's shoulders. Hailey's face wandered away from Lloyd's chest. Emerald irises studied Lloyd's face from tops of rectangular lenses. Lloyd's chocolate eye shutters gazed into Hailey's emerald green eyes. Lloyd rested gentle digits on banana yellow fabric covering Hailey's deltoid. Bushy eyebrows flattened Lloyd's coal shaded irises. "You mind if I look at your neck?" Lloyd inquired. Hailey studied Lloyd's chocolate eye shutters. She shook her head.

"No," she replied. Lloyd glided ends of strong fingers between soft skin covering Hailey's throat and elastic fabric erupting from the neck of her sweater. He peeled a yellow tube away from the surface of Hailey's neck. He studied a thin welt surrounding Hailey's throat. It was the color of grapefruit flesh.

"That's looking better," Lloyd commented. Lloyd gazed into Hailey's emerald eye shutters. The left corners of Lloyd's lips curled into a smirk. Hailey's gloss coated mouth rims formed into a smile. Hailey reached up. Her fingers curled around Lloyd's. She guided the edges of Lloyd's knuckles along soft skin surrounding her neck. She glided ends of masculine digits across slick hide covering the edge of her face. She rested her cheek on the surface of Lloyd's palm. She crushed soft facial skin on top of Lloyd's leathery hand flesh. She closed her eyes. Wednesday watched her friend caressing Lloyd's palm with the edge of her face. Wednesday's ruby red lips curled into a smile.

"Jeez--" Wednesday groaned. "You two seem to be getting along." Hailey lifted her cheek off of Lloyd's fingers. She looked over her shoulder. She gazed into Wednesday's teal irises. She smiled. She faced Lloyd. She crushed Lloyd's fingers between surfaces of velvet palms.

"We should go," Hailey remarked. Lloyd smirked. He lifted the fingers of his free hand.

"Give me your backpack," he instructed. Hailey dragged tomato red harnesses down her arms. She dangled a shoulder strap from the ends of Lloyd's masculine digits. Lloyd headed for the rear end of his car. He lifted Hailey's book bag beside his bicep. He looked at Hailey above faded fabric hanging from his shoulder. Bushy brows lifted above Lloyd's carotene shrouded eye sockets. "I hope you brought something useful," Lloyd remarked. Wednesday snuck fingers spotted with black nail polish beside Hailey's hip. She opened Lloyd's passenger door. Wednesday's face appeared in front of Hailey's emerald irises. Hailey snapped out of a daze. She studied her friend's teal eye shutters. Pearls showed between Wednesday's grinning, ruby red lips. Hailey smiled back. She squeezed smirking lips together.

"Shut-- up," Hailey forced out of grinning lips. Wednesday tilted the backrest of Lloyd's front, passenger chair. She climbed onto torn vinyl covering the back seat. Hailey glared at her friend's grinning face. She shoved Lloyd's front, passenger back rest on top of Wednesday's exposed kneecaps. She hopped into the front seat. She closed the door. She looked beside a vinyl headrest poking out of the back of her seat. "Fuck off," Hailey grumbled. "I like him." Wednesday's slender eyebrows lifted above her light blue irises. Grinning lips opened along the lower edge of Wednesday's face.

"I noticed." Lloyd closed the Cammy's trunk. He wandered along the edge of the car. He hopped into his driver's seat. He looked beside him. He exhaled a heavy breath. He looked over his shoulder. He studied pale, blue irises below the ends of Wednesday's bangs.

"You're-- seriously gonna go with us?" Lloyd requisitioned. Wednesday searched a chocolate fountain hanging from Lloyd's forehead. She found shiny coals between knots of shaggy hair.

"They-- tried to kill both of us, last night," Wednesday explained. Lloyd stared into Wednesday's eyes. He looked at Hailey.

"You're kidding me," Lloyd responded. He squinted. He pointed towards Wednesday's front porch. "They came by here?"

"My house," Hailey explained. "They tied us up and burned the house down." Lloyd stared into Hailey's emerald eye shutters. He glanced at Wednesday. He faced Hailey.

"That house on Cherry Lane--" Lloyd remarked. "The one that burned down." Lloyd licked his lips. He sucked saliva between his teeth and the tip of his tongue. "It never occurred to me that that-- was your house." Hailey searched chocolate strands covering the upper half of Lloyd's face. She blinked. Lloyd looked at Wednesday. He studied Hailey's colorful face. "W-Where's your mom?" Lloyd asked. He squinted. "Or, your-- dad?" Hailey gazed into Lloyd's eyes. She sighed.

"Aww, Lloydd--" Hailey groaned. "That's a whole other story." Wednesday studied the edges of her friend's face. She looked at Lloyd.

"She was raped, too," Wednesday explained. Hailey's head turned. She looked into her friend's teal irises. Wednesday stared back. She motioned towards Lloyd's face with the fingers of her right hand. "He needs to know that," Wednesday remarked. Wednesday licked ruby beeswax coating her lips. She folded her arms over her chest. "Anything else we need to know about?"

"Oh, fuckk--" Hailey snarled. "Wednesdayy--" Hailey stared into her friend's teal irises. She exhaled a heavy breath. "N-No." Hailey looked into Lloyd's eyes. She shook her head. Lloyd stroked his chin. He lifted inquisitive fingers in front of his lips.

"Wow, you live a full life," Lloyd remarked. Hailey's lips formed a smile. She exhaled a nervous breath. Wednesday studied Lloyd's masculine jawline. She inhaled between ruby red mouth edges.

"She's had a rough week," Wednesday explained. "Go easy on her." Hailey noticed Lloyd's shoelaces. They were coiled on top of light blue carpet covering a hump between the Cammy's front seats. Hailey bent over. She gripped ends of unkempt shoestrings between her thumbs and index fingers. She tightened Lloyd's shoe straps. She wound them into a bow. She looked up. Lloyd studied Hailey's pale cheeks. He smirked. Hailey sank into Lloyd's passenger seat. She reached beside her shoulder. She grabbed a seat belt buckle.

"Start driving," Hailey instructed. "I'll tell you the whole story." Lloyd fired up the Cammy. He wiggled a shifter stick poking out of the Cammy's floorboard. He looked beside him. He studied navy blue denim strapped around Hailey's thighs. He followed ends of elastic pant legs to necks of brown, leather boots. He looked up. Hailey's glittering irises stared back. Hailey's carnation stained lips curled into a smile. Hailey inhaled between gloss coated mouth edges. "What are you-- looking at?" Hailey squeezed out of nervous lips. Lloyd smiled. He faced forward. He checked his rearview mirror.

"Uh--" Lloyd grumbled. He glanced at Hailey's emerald eye shutters. "You're-- looking pretty good in those jeans, Hailey," Lloyd responded. Lloyd pulled away from Wednesday's yard. Wednesday squeezed between the Cammy's front seats. She shoved her friend's shoulder.

"I told you--" Wednesday responded. Wednesday looked beside her. She studied the edge of Lloyd's face. She pointed at Hailey with her thumb. "Doesn't her ass-- look great in those??" Wednesday demanded. Apricot eyebrows climbed Hailey's pale forehead. Hailey shook humiliated fingers beside grinning lips.

"Wednesdayy!" Hailey shouted. Lloyd chuckled. He shifted the Cammy into third gear. He looked beside him. He checked out Hailey's tush. Hailey folded nervous digits in front of her denim wrapped cheeks. She stared into Lloyd's coal shaded irises. Apricot brows lifted above Hailey's eye sockets. Hailey crushed smiling lips together.

"Fuckk-- off," Hailey grumbled. Hailey glanced at her friend's pale irises. "Both of you." Lloyd's bushy eyebrows lifted above his chocolate eye shutters. Lloyd tilted his head.

"It's lookin'-- pretty good," Lloyd admitted. Lloyd checked his rearview mirror. Wednesday sealed laughter behind the back of her throat. She sank into Lloyd's back seat. Lloyd shifted the Cammy into neutral. He slowed down for a stop sign. He looked beside him. Sparkling emeralds stared back from the apples of Hailey's cheeks. Hailey squeezed smiling lips together. Lloyd offered Hailey a set of apologetic fingers. Hailey studied Lloyd's thick digits. She glided fingertips spotted with tangerine nail polish along the inner surfaces of Lloyd's knuckle extensions. Lloyd closed his fingers around Hailey's. He inhaled a breath between his lips. "Tell me what happened, Hailey," Lloyd instructed.

Lloyd listened to Hailey's story while he drove to the Church. He pulled off the freeway near the end of Refugee Drive. He parked beside a field of grass. The Church was about a mile away. A line of orange sunlight extended across the edge of the horizon. A navy blue canopy faded. It became unlit space between twinkles of cosmic bodies. The Church was erected fifty yards from the edge of the road. Hailey, Wednesday, and Lloyd exited the Cammy. Lloyd studied the Church. He narrowed chocolate irises hiding behind strands of shaggy hair.

"There's no cars," Lloyd remarked.

"They park them inside," Hailey explained. Lloyd studied Hailey's colorful face above the roof of his car. "That way, nobody can tell they're in there." Lloyd faced forward. He nodded. Lloyd, Wednesday, and Hailey headed towards the rear end of the car. Lloyd opened the trunk. He handed Hailey her backpack. He rummaged around. "What're you looking for?" Hailey inquired. Lloyd lifted a wooden baseball bat out of his trunk. He closed a steel door coated with fading, baby blue paint. A wood club extended from the fingers of Lloyd's right hand. Long screws were poking out of the end. Wednesday studied pointed threads extending from the end of Lloyd's wooden slugger. She inhaled an uneasy breath between her ruby red lips.

"Holyy shit--" Wednesday groaned. Lloyd looked at Wednesday over his shoulder. He studied Wednesday's teal irises.

"Ready to call it quits?" Lloyd inquired. Wednesday stared into Lloyd's chocolate eye shutters. She blinked. Hailey knelt down on tufts of wild grass. She unzipped her backpack. She studied the edges of her friend's pale face.

"You want something out of my bag, Wednesday?" Hailey asked. Wednesday looked beside her. Her pale irises focused on Hailey's bright red book bag. Wednesday licked ruby stained mouth edges.

"Wudda you got?" Wednesday responded. Hailey dug around. She offered Wednesday a claw hammer. Wednesday closed nervous fingers around a slick, wood handle. She studied a stainless steel hammer head. She looked into her friend's emerald eyes. "Give me your gun," she instructed. Hailey stared at her friend's teal eye shutters. She unfastened a compartment along the edge of her backpack. She offered Wednesday her father's boot pistol. Wednesday's gentle fingers closed around cold, slick steel extending from Hailey's tiny digits.

Lloyd dangled his ball bat from the fingers of his right hand. "I didn't know you had a gun," Lloyd remarked. Wednesday pointed a two shot pistol at a telephone pole near the edge of the road. She stared down the top of a 9MM barrel. She winked one eye closed. She lowered Hailey's dad's gun. She dropped it in the pocket of her black jeans. Hailey picked up a bottle of starter fluid the size of a television remote. She also took out a plastic lighter. She stood up. She shoved the container of starter fluid into the pocket of her jeans. She slipped the lighter into her other pocket. She knelt down in front of her backpack. She took out a steel bracket. A shiny handle extended from one end. It poked out at a forty-five degree angle.

"Is that a-- staple gun?" Wednesday inquired. Hailey looked up. She stared into her friend's eyes below flattened brows the color of apricot flesh.

"You ready to go home, yet?" Hailey asked. Wednesday studied her friend's emerald irises. Hailey zipped her backpack. She slung her book bag over her shoulders. Hailey, Wednesday, and Lloyd headed towards the Church. Lloyd dangled a cigarette from his lips. He ignited his coffin nail with a red, plastic lighter. Hailey watched Lloyd exhale tobacco fumes from his nostrils. She licked lips coated with carnation gloss.

"You never did tell me about your brother," Hailey remarked. Lloyd glanced at the lenses of Hailey's glasses. He yanked a smoldering tobacco tube away from the edges of his mouth.

"Sal," Lloyd responded. He exhaled a tube of cigarette smoke from his lips. "Yeah-- they found him in a dumpster," Lloyd explained. "He looked kinda like you. They-- beat him up with bats. And then, they cut his throat." Lloyd took a drag. He gazed into Hailey's emerald irises. He inhaled between his lips. "I always figured it was them." Lloyd squinted. "But, I couldn't ever be sure. You know?"

"Sal was friends with Travis and them?" Wednesday inquired.

"Yes," Lloyd responded. Lloyd studied Wednesday's pale, blue irises. "And-- they all did-- something." Lloyd exhaled cigarette smoke. He shook his head. "Something they did together. Sal never would tell me what it was."

"When did all this happen?" Hailey asked.

"Couple of years ago," Lloyd replied. "I watched my brother walking home, one day. And-- Travis and his friends jumped him." Lloyd squinted. "They kept screaming about-- some-- some robbery. Something. I don't know." Lloyd shook his head. "I'm not really sure what they were talking about. But--" Lloyd took a drag from his cigarette. "Travis pointed at Sal while he was laying on the sidewalk. And-- he told him he was a dead man." Lloyd looked into Hailey's emerald eyes. He exhaled tobacco fumes. "They found him a few days later." Hailey walked with her thumbs tucked under the straps of her backpack. She stopped. Lloyd and Wednesday's heads turned. They froze. Wednesday studied her friend's emerald irises. She squinted.

"H-Hailey?" Wednesday inquired. Emeralds stared at Wednesday's sapphire eye shutters from the tops of Hailey's glasses lenses. Hailey searched chocolate strands hanging in front of Lloyd's coal colored irises. A cigarette hung from Lloyd's lips. The end of a spiked club rested on Lloyd's shoulder. Hailey gazed into Lloyd's dark brown eyes. She licked carnation gloss coating her lips.

"There's something we have to do," Hailey remarked. "Before we go in." Lloyd cyphoned the end of his cigarette. He inhaled through a space along the ends of his lips. He exhaled smoke through his nostrils.

"The fuck you talkin' about?" Lloyd inquired. Hailey gazed into Lloyd's chocolate irises. She wandered across blades of springy grass. She studied a smoldering tobacco tube dangling from Lloyd's lips. She smirked. Hailey reached beside the edges of Lloyd's mouth. She gripped a cellulose cylinder between the tips of her thumb and index finger. She grabbed Lloyd's fingers. She stuffed Lloyd's cigarette filter between the first and second fingers of his free hand. Lloyd watched Hailey's tiny digits. He smirked. "What are you doing?" Lloyd hummed.

"You know what I'm doing," Hailey responded. She looked into Lloyd's eyes. A smile tugged the corners of Hailey's lips. The heels of Hailey's boots lifted off of soft grass. Hailey balanced on toes of brown leather footwear. Lloyd tossed his bat. He switched his cigarette to the fingers of his right hand. He lowered his head. Hailey and Lloyd's lips connected. Hailey crushed mouth rims coated with carnation gloss against Lloyd's lips. Lloyd and Hailey puckered edges of passionate oral cavities. Lloyd opened his lips. He gripped Hailey's top lip with the rims of his mouth. Hailey squeezed Lloyd's lower lip between oral extents stained with gloss. Wednesday's ruby red lips formed a grin. Wednesday looked away from her friends. She glided fingers spotted with black nail polish through silk strands hanging from her scalp.

"Fuckk--" Wednesday grumbled. She watched her friends making out. "Really, you guys??" Lloyd surrounded Hailey's soft cheeks with his fingers. He tilted his head. Hailey and Lloyd's tongues touched. Lloyd pulled his lips away from Hailey's. Lloyd and Hailey's separating mouths made a sucking sound. Hailey and Lloyd gazed into each other's eyes. Their lips curled into smiles. Lloyd and Hailey looked next to them. They studied Wednesday's perplexed precipice. Hailey curled her fingers around Lloyd's. She eased Lloyd's passionate digits away from the edges of her face.

"Wednesdayy--" Hailey purred. "I may never see you guys again." Hailey looked into Lloyd's eyes. "I may never get another chance." Lloyd plopped the end of his cigarette against his lips. He took a drag. He pointed a smoldering cancer stick at Hailey's chest.

"You knoww--" Lloyd hummed. "We could do-- other-- stuff." Apricot eyebrows lifted above Hailey's emerald irises. Hailey showed Lloyd her palms.

"Lloyd, noo--" Hailey groaned. Lloyd chuckled. Puffs of smoke escaped Lloyd's grinning teeth. Hailey watched Lloyd's giggling face. She smiled. "We don't-- have time for that." Lloyd looked away from Hailey's emerald irises. He tilted his head.

"Uh--" he purred. "Well, actually--" Panicked eyelids lifted off of Hailey's emerald eye shutters. Hailey shook frantic digits in front of her biceps.

"L-Lloydd--" Hailey squeezed out. Wednesday cupped tiny fingers over her ruby lips. She chuckled into surfaces of pale digits. Lloyd studied Hailey's emerald green irises. He squeezed smiling lips together.

"I'm kidding, Hailey," Lloyd responded. "Come here--" Lloyd wrapped arms surrounded by faded jacket sleeves around Hailey's shoulders. Hailey threw sweater wrapped biceps and forearms around Lloyd's chest. Lloyd stroked Hailey's flame tinted hair. He let go of Hailey's upper arms. Hailey unstrapped Lloyd's ribs. Lloyd bent over. He picked up his bat. Hailey wandered in front of Wednesday. She slung arms wrapped in yellow sweater sleeves around her friend's neck. Wednesday squeezed her friend's ribs between plaid covered biceps. She rested her chin on Hailey's shoulder. Hailey lifted her head. She laid edges of gloss coated lips on top of charcoal strands growing out of Wednesday's temple. She kissed her friend's cheek. Wednesday's head tilted back. Her skull dangled between her shoulder blades.

"Haileyy--" Wednesday groaned. "Did you-- seriously-- just kiss my cheek??"

Hailey exhaled a chuckle through her lips. "I kissed you on the cheek, Wednesday," Hailey responded. "Why? You want me to make out with you, too?"

"Fuckk no--" Wednesday grumbled. Wednesday rested her chin on Hailey's shoulder. She turned her head. She plopped ruby stained lips on Hailey's pale cheek. She cyphoned her friend's cream colored skin. "There," Wednesday remarked. "Now, I kissed your cheek. Fucker."

Travis, Jennifer, Paul, and Vicky sat on the floor of the Church. They were gathered around a box filled with sparklers from the previous Independence Day. Four sticks firing fountains of molten metal poked out of Travis and each of his friends' fingers. Teenagers frying on acid wove sparkling strips in front of ecstatic faces. Martin sat a few feet away. He watched Travis and his friends behaving like imbeciles. He chuckled. He plopped a bottle of whiskey against the rims of his mouth. He was so wasted, his lips felt numb.

"This some good fry, Pauley-Pauleyy--" Travis hummed. Paul's eyes were uncovered. Mismatched irises surrounded dilated pupils. Ecstatic skin flaps peeled off of different colored eye shutters. Paul burned an infinity symbol into lenses of discolored pupil adjusters.

"Vickyy--" Paul purred. "Check this out, Vicky. This'll mess with your head, Vicky." Paul followed the shape of an infinity character in front of Vicky's chocolate irises. "Watch this, Vickyy--" Paul groaned. Vicky's face turned on the end of a slender flesh shaft. Vicky stared through lighted infinity symbols floating in front of Paul's face. Pupils like dinner plates studied Paul's unmatching irises.

"Whoa, Paull--" Vicky hummed. "How do you do that, Paul? You're amazing Paull--" Vicky's saucer sized eye holes followed shutters surrounding Paul's pupils. One set of Paul's irises was the color of molasses. The other set was the color of tarnished brass. "You're eyess-- are different colorss--" Vicky groaned. "What if we're allll-- just different colors??" Jennifer's head tilted back. The back of Jennifer's skull dangled dark brown strands between maroon fabric stretched between her shoulder blades. Jennifer cackled like a lunatic. Laughter like femanine mad scientist chuckles echoed along sheets of tin surrounding the building. Travis' face swiveled on a thick neck poking out of the collar of a leather trench coat. Pupils the width of a coffee cup studied Jennifer's pale face.

"Was that-- you, Jenn--??" Travis groaned. "You're really-- freaking me out, ba-a-abe! You sound like a wicked, wicked witch!" Jennifer crushed her forehead on top of her boyfriend's. Pupils like half dollars stared out of Jennifer's pale, blue irises. Jennifer stared into Travis' dilated, cornflower eye shutters. Lips painted the color of wine formed a sinister grin along the lower edge of Jennifer's face. Brunette brows lifted above Jennifer's eye sockets. Eyelids brushed with magenta eye shadow lifted off of baby blue irises. Jennifer filled tin wrapped space with a wicked witch cackle. Travis flipped his head back. He squeeled like a frightened animal.

"My Godd--" Paul grumbled. "What the fuck are you guys doing over there? You're wiggin' me ouut-- You're fuckin' with my highh-- What's wrong with you guyys--?? Stop thatt--" Martin heard more chuckling. It sounded like a grown man. Martin attempted to form rubbery lips into the shape of a grin. He realized the edges of his mouth were already smiling. He detected laughter erupting from the back of his throat. Martin concluded-- he was listening to his own laughter. Martin's grinning lips collapsed in front of his teeth. Martin needed to pee. His senses weren't quite right. He was worried he might piss himself if he didn't get up while he was thinking about it.

Martin rested a bottle of hooch on concrete beside his legs. He shoved himself to his feet. It felt like he was pushing himself away from a spinning merry-go-round. Martin stumbled. He almost fell over. Martin steadied wobbling arms in front of a teal dress shirt covering his chest. He wiggled rubbery legs surrounded by tubes of tan khakis. He shuffled points of snakeskin boots along slick concrete. Martin shoved a thick door out of his way. He followed it around the edge of a door frame. The door crashed into rusted tin skinning the frame of the Church. Martin flattened on top of a steel rectangle.

Martin crushed unsteady fingertips on top of a slick plate. He shoved himself away from the surface of the door. He swiveled a steel rectangle in front of his chest. The door sank into a tin frame. Martin stumbled to the edge of the building. He faced a wall covered with sheet metal. He unfastened zipper teeth woven in front of his crotch. He studied tin ridges spinning in front of his face. He lifted quivering eyelids off of chocolate irises. Martin's pupils followed peaks of rusted sheet metal wandering by. Martin decided he was getting a little carried away with the whiskey. The corners of Martin's rubbery lips formed the shape of a grin.

"Yeahh--" Martin grumbled. He lifted a plastic button out of the way of his pecker. "I shouldd-- hang it up when I get backk--" Martin inhaled cool air through edges of dry lips. "Them damn kidss-- They'll end up killing eesh otherr--" Martin looked down. He realized he was peeing. He forgot. Martin watched urine spatter a rust coated wall. He grinned. "I thingg--" Martin's rubbery mouth edges blathered. "I-- thinkk--" Martin corrected. "I betterr-- hang it up when I get back in therre--" Martin stared into space. He narrowed his eyes. Crinkles extended from the corners of Martin's eye sockets. The words he spoke sounded familiar. They tickled the edges of Martin's short term memory. Martin wondered if he was repeating what he said recently.

Martin looked down. Someone was standing behind him. A person's shadow shrouded tin beside Martin's wobbling legs. Martin shrieked inside his alcohol soaked brain. Shivering eyelids lifted off of Martin's chocolate irises. Tiny spikes sank into Martin's lower back. Martin could feel the edges of his teal shirt pulling against something near the end of his spine. Martin's numb lips drifted apart. A drunken groan erupted from the rims of Martin's mouth. Martin heard a coil spring stretch. It was followed by a metallic crunch.

Martin snatched desperately at drunken thoughts. The only thing Martin could think to do was fumble with his britches. Martin tried to zip the crotch of his pants. He couldn't figure out what else to do. His mind was running on auto-pilot. Additional spring driven cracks pounded Martin's eardrums. Steel crunches echoed along ridges of rusted tin. They sounded like gunshots. Martin could feel tiny barbs being pounded into the edge of his throat. He detected blood trickling out of his clammy skin. Martin hugged his neck with his shoulders. He squeezed a drunken groan out of his throat. Martin detected spikes sinking into his spine a little lower than the others. Martin dropped to his knees. Spring loaded barbs began piercing the back of Martin's scalp. Something cracked Martin over the top of his head. It felt like ends of flattened steel. Martin's face collapsed on blades of soft grass.

Wednesday stood beside blood soaked strands hanging from the back of Martin's scalp. The head of a crimson spattered claw hammer extended from Wednesday's shaking fingers. A shiny nail smasher wobbled on the end of a polished stick poking out of Wednesday's pale digits. Hailey hovered near the soles of Martin's lifeless boots. Arms wrapped in banana yellow sweater sleeves dangled beside Hailey's hips. A blood spattered staple gun hung from the fingers of Hailey's right hand. Hailey watched the end of a claw hammer swiveling on top of Wednesday's fist.

"You gonna finish him, Wednesday?" Hailey asked. Wednesday looked above red and black checks surrounding her shoulder. She shook like a leaf. Ruby stained mouth edges quivered near the bottom of Wednesday's pale face. Wednesday looked like she was going to throw up.

"F-Fuck no--" Wednesday squeezed out of wiggling teeth. Lloyd wandered next to Hailey. He pointed a spiked club between Wednesday's pale, blue irises.

"Step aside, Wednesday," Lloyd instructed. Wednesday stared into Lloyd's chocolate eye shutters. Rubber legs surrounded by black denim carried Wednesday out of Lloyd's way. Lloyd stood next to Martin's blood drenched scalp. He lifted a spiked slugger over his head. A wood shaft stuck full of screws dangled between Lloyd's shoulder blades. Lloyd sank a caveman beater into Martin's scalp. Martin's thick skull thumped like a bowling ball dropping into a sand pit. Wednesday stood beside her friend. She stared at Martin's lifeless carcass. A blood drenched claw hammer dropped out of Wednesday's shivering fingers.

"I-- I-- wanna go home," Wednesday squeezed out of shaking incisors. Hailey looked beside her. She studied her friend's trembling face. Terrified tears soaked Wednesday's pale cheeks.

"Stop looking at it," Hailey instructed. Wednesday's eyelids squeezed shut in front of her teal irises. Wiggling lips coated with ruby beeswax folded into the center of Wednesday's crinkling face. Wednesday turned her head. She buried her face in banana yellow elastic covering Hailey's collar bone. She stumbled into Hailey's arms. Hailey tossed her staple gun beside Wednesday's claw hammer. She slung her biceps and forearms around Wednesday's shoulders. "You wanna walk back to the car?" Hailey purred.

"We can'tt--" Wednesday groaned into the surface of Hailey's sweater. "We have to finish them, now." Hailey exhaled a heavy breath from her nostrils. She stroked pitch black strands hanging from her friend's scalp.

"Then, you'd better pick up that hammer," Hailey recommended. "You're gonna need it." Lloyd rolled points of baseball bat screws through blades of grass. Shiny coals behind chocolate trickles stared into Hailey's emerald irises.

"Let's see if I can draw them out," Lloyd suggested. Lloyd lifted a spiked club soaked with Martin's blood. He wandered beside a steel door. Wednesday shoved her tear soaked face away from her friend's shoulder. She searched blades of soft grass. She snatched the claw hammer off of the ground. Hailey picked up her staple gun. The girls wandered beside the edge of the building. They peeked around the corner. Lloyd smacked the door with his baseball bat. He pounded a steel covering with crimson stained threads three times. He flattened on top of rusted tin beside the door. Paul studied the inner surface of a steel door. Different colored irises stared at a rectangle of thick metal. Nervous eyelids peeled off of mismatched eye shutters.

"What was that?" Paul forced through terrified lips. He faced his friends "Did you hear that? What was that??"

Travis pointed between Paul's discolored irises. "You heard that, too?" Travis requisitioned. "Those three cracks??" Paul's saucer sized pupils stared into Travis' cornflower eye shutters. Paul nodded.

"Yeahh--" Vicky groaned. Vicky's head turned. She stared into Paul's eyes. Vicky's eyelids lifted off of her chocolate brown irises. "What-- was that?" Vicky demanded. Vicky squeezed mortified digits around white jacket curtains surrounding Paul's striped, red shirt. She shook Paul's shoulders. "WHAT WAS IT?!!?" Vicky shrieked. Paul's off colored eyes popped out of his terrified face. Vicky's head turned. Vicky's chocolate brown irises focused on a steel rectangle covering the entrance to the building. Vicky looked behind her. She searched poorly illuminated space with wild eyes. Crimson stained lips peeled off of Vicky's horrified teeth. "Where's my-- dad?" Vicky requisitioned. "W-Where IS HE?!!" Travis started cackling. He stopped on a dime. His cornflower blue eyes bugged out of his head. His lips curled into a terrified frown. Travis leaned forward.

"I think your old man's playing a TRICK ON US!!" Travis squeezed out of dreadful incisors. Vicky filled with excited relief. Her head tilted back. Vicky's scalp dangled dark brown strands on top of tan leather suspended between her shoulder blades. Vicky filled the tin wrapped building with joyful giggles. Vicky's face transformed. Her elated precipice contorted. Vicky's cheery facial features became as serious as a heart attack. "We'd better get OVER THERE!!" Travis belched. He grabbed hot pink tubes surrounding Jennifer's biceps. He jiggled Jennifer's shoulders. "We'll sneak over by the door--!" Travis ordered. "And, on the count of three-- we'll throw the door open IN HIS FACE!!" Ecstatic eyelids peeled off of Jennifer's baby blue irises. Jennifer's wine shaded lips stretched apart. Jennifer exhaled excited cackles.

"Ahh-ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-haa!!" Jennifer shrieked. Jennifer's elated fingers squeezed shut around columns of black leather surrounding Travis' shoulders. "Yesss!!" Jennifer shouted. Jennifer's euphoric irises searched vacant darkness. Jennifer stared into Travis' cornflower blue eye shutters. "Let's go GET HIM!!" Travis and Jennifer scrambled to their feet. They hurried across the warehouse.

Paul and Vicky plopped excited fingers beside their hips. They swiveled the other direction. They watched the warehouse door with eager anticipation. They plopped elated digits over their grinning lips. Travis flattened the fingers of his right hand against the door. He curled his free digits around a cold doorknob poking out of the edge of a steel covering. Jennifer flattened her fingers next to boyfriend's. Three smacks pounded the surface of the door. Travis' wild irises stared at cold steel covering the warehouse entrance. Scowling lips lifted off of Travis' teeth.

"One--!" Travis rasped. "Two--! Travis and his girlfriend shoved a steel covering through empty space. "THREEEE!!!!" Travis shrieked. A thick, steel door swung open. It crashed into tin ridges covering the edge of the building. Travis and Jennifer tumbled out. They collapsed on tufts of soft grass. Jennifer landed on her back. She studied points of light surrounded by a pitch tinted canopy. Galactic bodies chased each other across cosmic pavement. Jennifer exhaled excited laughter. Screws poking out of a wooden club sank into Jennifer's scalp. Jennifer stopped moving. Her elated precipice stared lifelessly at evening stars. Lloyd battered the top of Jennifer's head like he was teeing off for a game of golf. He stared above ends of soft grass. Lloyd's dark brown irises studied cornflower eye shutters below Travis' thick brows.

"Forrre--" Lloyd hummed. Wednesday snuck beside the door. She shoved it towards a rectangular frame constructed along the edge of the building. Travis' wild irises studied his girlfriend's joy-filled face. Pupils like saucers followed points of jagged screws up the surface of a wooden baseball bat. Travis' horrified eye holes traced the ends of Lloyd's thick digits. Travis stared at shaggy strands covering the upper half of Lloyd's face. Lloyd twisted the end of his bat. He wiggled points of brain coated wood fasteners out of Jennifer's skull. Lloyd pointed his spiked club between Travis' cornflower eye shutters. Chocolate brown eyebrows flattened Lloyd's coal tinted irises behind an espresso fountain. "You remember my brother Sal--" Lloyd remarked. "Right, dipshit??" Travis' lips wiggled apart. Travis exhaled a horrified breath.

"Ahh--!" Travis detected toes of tiny boots surrounding his knees. Travis' head spun like a top. Travis' cornflower irises stared into vengeful emeralds tucked behind tiny panes of glass. Travis watched Hailey's emerald green eye shutters inflate like birthday balloons. Travis' eyelids peeled off of his terrified corneas. "aa-- AAAAA!!" Travis squeezed out.

"Sal sends his regards," Lloyd added. Hailey struck a plastic lighter in front of her chest. She squirted charcoal starter fluid on top. Liquid flames poured onto Travis' frightened face. Ignitor juice drenched Travis' shirt and the body of his leather trench coat. Cheddar and queso swirls erupted from the surface of Travis' chest and upper limbs. Travis felt his eyes melting. He detected flames drifting away from shaggy strands swinging from his scalp. Travis flopped like a fish out of water. He exhaled panicked shrieks through edges of roaring flames.

"AAAA! AAAA! AAAAHH! AAAAHH!!" Travis scrambled to his knees. He swooped desparate arms doused in flaming starter fluid. Hailey shuffled away on toes of brown, leather boots. Lloyd cracked Travis' flame drenched scalp with his spiked club. Travis wiggled like he was having a seizure. He forced out disgusted shouts on peaks of heavy breaths. "AAH! AAH! AAH!!" Hailey balanced on tips of slick boots. She raised enraged digits beside her biceps. A plastic bottle containing starter fluid dangled from the fingers of Hailey's right hand.

"You like that, motha fucker?!?" Hailey shrieked. "You want some more of that!?!" Hailey suspended a plastic bottle in front of her stomach. She squeezed a long container between tight fingers. Barbecue juice sprayed into Travis' furious face. Flammable liquid poured down Travis' charred facial skin. Flames erupted from shriveled leather hanging from Travis' ribs. Hailey swiveled the plastic bottle in front yellow sweater fabric covering her chest. Cheddar and queso swirls poured out of Travis' blackened flesh. Travis collapsed on his face. Hailey towered next to flames erupting from Travis' mummified skin. She pointed at the back of Travis' charred scalp. Fiery emeralds glared at Travis' crunchy skull hide below points of flame tinted eyebrows. "That's how you burn someone!!" Hailey shrieked. "You narcissistic cock-sucker!!" Lloyd watched Hailey through curtains of chocolate hair. Astonished eyebrows lifted above Lloyd's coal shaded irises.

"Uh--" Lloyd groaned. "Hailey?" Hailey squeezed starter fluid on top of flames pouring out of Travis' spine. Wild emeralds stared at tangerine flames through rectangular panes.

"wwWAAAHH!!" Hailey shrieked through scowling, gloss coated lips. Hailey looked up. She stared into mournful irises behind strands of Lloyd's shaggy hair. Hailey looked beside the Church's entrance door. Wednesday's disgusted face watched her friend beside sheets of rusted tin. Wednesday exhaled shaky breaths through trembling lips. Wednesday's clammy facial skin was the color of porcelain.

"J-Jesus, Hailey--" Wednesday squeezed out of quivering mouth rims. Vicky slung a steel covering out of her way. She looked around. Vicky's frantic, chocolate eye shutters searched evening air. Wednesday dropped a blood stained claw hammer. She yanked Hailey's pistol out of her pocket. She pointed it at Vicky's terrified face. Vicky stared down the barrel of a 9MM bullet launcher. She snatched the tiny gun out of Wednesday's shivering fingers. She hopped onto blades of soft grass surrounding the perimeter of the Church. She waved Hailey's dad's gun around. Wild eyelids peeled off of Vicky's dark brown irises.

"N-Nobody move!!" Vicky shouted. The heel of Vicky's left boot collided with Jennifer's lifeless shoulder. Vicky tripped over her friend's chest. She scrambled to her knees. She pointed Hailey's tiny pistol towards the door to the Church. She stared at Jennifer's lifeless, grinning face. She studied corners of smiling, wine shaded lips. "N-No!" Vicky shrieked. "NOO!!" Vicky pointed the barrel of Hailey's gun between emeralds near the top of her face. Vicky followed arcs of tangerine flames to a charred carcass. She studied sleeves of ash. Long, charcoal columns were shaped like the arms of Travis' trench coat. Vicky's defeated brows pointed at the outer corners of her eye sockets. Crimson stained lips peeled off of Vicky's teeth. "NO-O-O!!" Vicky cried. Vicky shoved herself to her feet. She stumbled around Jennifer's grinning carcass. She aimed a set of 9MM barrels at the middle of Hailey's face. Vicky's dark brown eyebrows lifted above her furious, chocolate colored irises.

"Where's my dad?!" Vicky shouted. Hailey stared down the barrel of her father's gun. Vengeful emeralds gazed below flattened eyebrows the color of apricot flesh. Vicky pointed 9MM slugs at Hailey's face with fingers wobbling on slender wrists. Vicky's furious face jiggled on the end of her slender neck. "Where's my dad, YOU FREAKK?!!?" Vicky demanded. The door opened. Vicky's head turned like a top. Fingers extending from the knuckles of Vicky's right hand carried Hailey's tiny pistol beside Vicky's shoulder. Vicky squeezed the trigger. Vicky's furious brows collapsed on the peaks of her eye sockets. Vicky's claret stained lips formed an "o" shape. Pupils the size of dinner plates watched Paul tumble out of a tin door frame. Paul landed on his shoulder blades. He flattened on stalks of soft grass.

"Ohhh, Godd--" Vicky groaned. Vicky squeezed horrified fingers over her lips. Mortified brows pointed at the outer corners of Vicky's eyes. Vicky stumbled across springy grass blades. She dropped to her knees beside Paul's shoulders. She wrapped arms surrounded by tan, leather tubes around Paul's chest. Paul crushed limp fingers on top of his ribs. A crimson fountain squirted out of Paul's lifeless digits. Paul's pale face collapsed on the shoulder of Vicky's leather jacket. Paul's miscolored irises stared at Vicky's face from the tips of his bony cheeks. Terrified brows crushed the outer edges of Paul's eye sockets.

"W-Why did you shoot me, Vickyy--??" Paul squeezed out of trembling lips.

Vicky's quivering mouth edges peeled off of Vicky's teeth. "AAaaaa--" Vicky squeezed out. She squashed ends of infuriated digits on top of Paul's pulverized heart tissue. "Aww, Paull--" Vicky groaned. "I didn't mean to. I'm so sorryy--" Vicky's eyelids squeezed together. Tears trickled out of the corners of Vicky's eyes. Paul crushed Vicky's fingers on top of his chest. Blood squirted between beginnings of pale knuckles. Hot claret soaked Paul's striped shirt. Paul forced his eyelids shut. Paul's lips lifted off of gritted incisors. Paul swiveled his face on the end of his neck. He focused on Vicky's tear soaked irises.

"Is it because--" Paul grumbled. "Is it because of my eyess??" Vicky stared into Paul's mismatched eye shutters. She shook Paul's chest between her leather wrapped biceps. She ripped crimson stained lips apart.

"PAUL! NOOO!!" Vicky shouted. Paul went limp in Vicky's arms. Vicky studied Paul's pale face. Paul's discolored irises stared into space. Vicky whimpered. She flattened blood soaked fingers along the edge of Paul's cheek. She shook Paul's shoulders. "P-Paul--?" Vicky squeezed through bawling lips. "PAULL!!" Paul's limp precipice gazed stupidly at nighttime air. Vicky exhaled sobs on peaks of shallow breaths. "eh-hehh-- ehhh--" Vicky buried her face in the collar of Paul's white jacket. "eh-heh-heh-hehh-- ehh-hehh-hehhh--" Vicky cried into white fabric surrounding Paul's limp shoulder. Vicky shivered with sobs. She sucked panicked breaths between horrified teeth. She lifted sopping wet cheeks off of Paul's shoulder. Her head turned like a top. Vicky studied pale faces hovering above blades of soft grass. Vicky peeled claret stained lips off of gritted teeth. She lifted Hailey's dad's boot pistol beside her cheek. She pointed a set of 9MM barrels at her temple. She shrieked between clenched incisors. "AAAAAA!!" Vicky squeezed a tiny trigger.




Chapter 23: "Ceasefire"
Table of Contents

Martin's white Cutler slowed down a mile away from the Church. The flat bodied automobile pulled near the end of Refugee Drive. Hailey steered Martin's eighties model car onto an asphalt shoulder. She looked beside her. Lloyd watched Hailey driving from the front, passenger seat. A lit cigarette hung from Lloyd's salmon shaded lips. Lloyd studied Hailey's colorful face. He smiled. Hailey smiled back. Lloyd pointed through a pane of glass erupting from the top of his door.

"Go ahead," Lloyd instructed. "Drive off the edge of the road." Hailey lifted the toe of a brown, leather boot off of the Cutler's brake pedal. The Cutler coasted over a pavement drop off. Lloyd yanked a smoldering tobacco stick away from his lips. "Go slow," Lloyd warned. Lloyd exhaled a tube of tobacco mist. White vapors escaped a space between the top of the Cutler's front, passenger window and a plastic strip fitted beside the edge of the ceiling. Hailey descended a grass hill near the edge of Refugee Drive. She guided Martin's white car onto a field of soft, jade green tufts. She parked next to Lloyd's Cammy. Lloyd unbuckled his seatbelt. He opened the front, passenger door. "Okay," Lloyd remarked. "I'll follow you girls back." Hailey's emerald irises popped open. Hailey stared into chocolate shutters hiding behind Lloyd's shaggy locks.

"Fuck youu--" Hailey snarled. Lloyd chuckled. He took a drag.

"Alright," Lloyd responded. "You can follow me back. How's that?" Lloyd pointed between Hailey's emerald eye shutters with the end of his cigarette. "You're a really good driver, Hailey," Lloyd commented. "I don't know what you're worried about."

Hailey lifted fingertips spotted with neon orange acrylic off the edges of Martin's steering wheel. "I don't even have a driver's license," Hailey explained. Lloyd nodded. He shrugged.

"I know people who've had a driver's license twenty years-- can't drive as good as you," Lloyd replied. Fluffy eyebrows lifted above Lloyd's coal shaded irises. "Like my mom." Lloyd reached beside his seat. He started to get up. Hailey's tiny fingers gripped a black, fabric tube surrounding Lloyd's bicep.

"L-Lloydd--" Hailey groaned. Lloyd looked into Hailey's emerald eye shutters. Hailey studied Lloyd's dark irises. Pale digits tugged the edge of Lloyd's jacket sleeve. The left corners of Lloyd's lips formed a smirk. Lloyd leaned across a plastic console dividing the front seats. His lips landed on top of Hailey's. Hailey's pale digits wadded fabric covering Lloyd's upper arm into a fist. Hailey crushed lips stained with carnation gloss against Lloyd's salmon tinted mouth edges. Wednesday watched her friends making out from Martin's back seat. The first and second fingers of Wednesday's right hand plopped the end of a lit cigarette between her ruby stained lips. The end of Wednesday's coffin nail glowed tangerine.

Lloyd surrounded Hailey's top lip with the rims of his oral cavity. He tightened the edges of his mouth around gloss coated facial flesh. He repeated. Hailey's carnation stained lips surrounded Lloyd's bottom lip. Hailey suctioned the lower rim of Lloyd's mouth. Hailey and Lloyd forced pressurized oral rims apart. Their lips made a puckering sound. Hailey and Lloyd gazed into each other's eyes. The edges of their mouths transformed into smiles. Hailey glanced above the back seat. She looked into Lloyd's chocolate irises. She pointed towards an opening beside the edge of the passenger's seat.

"Okayy--" Hailey purred. "Now, you can go." Lloyd exhaled a chuckle. He could feel Hailey's gloss sticking to his lips. A menthol coating made the edges of Lloyd's mouth burn like a layer of toothpaste. Lloyd hopped out. Wednesday scrambled over the back of Lloyd's seat. She plopped down next to Hailey. Lloyd watched Wednesday sink into his chair. He smirked. He closed the front, passenger door. Hailey looked beside her. Wednesday's pale, blue irises stared back below the ends of her bangs. Wednesday's ruby stained lips formed into the shape of a grin. The corners of Hailey's mouth curled into a smile. "What-- mother fucker??" Hailey grumbled. Wednesday took a drag from her cigarette. She inhaled between her ruby lips.

"You did not tell me how much you liked that guy," Wednesday responded. Hailey watched Lloyd slide into his Cammy through the Cutler's windshield. She licked her lips.

"It's all new to me too, Wednesday," Hailey explained. "I didn't really know, either."

Wednesday's eyelids lifted off of her teal irises. "He really likes you, too," Wednesday commented. Lloyd's brake lights flashed. The Cammy drove towards the road.

"Okay, here we go," Hailey remarked. Hailey followed Lloyd back to the Church. Lloyd parked beside Martin's mangled body. Hailey returned Martin's Cutler to a bay beside the Church's stained glass window. Hailey and Wednesday got out. Lloyd joined the girls inside. Wednesday studied the edges of her friend's colorful face.

"So-- what's the plan, here?" Wednesday inquired. Hailey curled a thoughtful index finger on top of her chin. She studied a collection of unmarked barrels near a corner of the warehouse. They were sealed. Hailey had no idea what was inside of them. She looked around. She spotted a flathead screwdriver lying on the floor.

"Well--" Hailey remarked. "You can't prove murder without a body." She bent over and picked up the screwdriver. "I mean-- you can. But supposedly, it's really hard to do." Hailey began prying a lid off one of the barrels with the screwdriver. "I think-- what we really wanna do is get rid of the bodies," Hailey explained. "And then, do something with Travis and Martin's cars." The top of a steel can popped off. It wobbled on cold cement like a steel dinner plate. Lloyd watched Hailey working. He crossed his arms over his chest.

"What're you thinking?" Lloyd asked. Hailey stared inside the open barrel. It was filled with amber tinted dust. Hailey's emerald irises studied sparkling particles. Hailey sank her palm into powder the color of ant hill dirt. She showed Lloyd her tiny fingers.

"Does that look like rust to you?" Hailey inquired.

Lloyd studied the inner surface of Hailey's hand. "Is that what's in there?" Lloyd requisitioned. "It's a-- barrel full of rust?" Hailey popped tops off of barrels. She looked around.

"I think these are all rust," Hailey explained. Hailey looked across the room. Wednesday wandered beside barrels like the ones Hailey opened. "Wednesday!" Hailey called. Hailey tossed her friend the screwdriver she found. "What's in those?" Wednesday squeezed the end of a screwdriver blade below the lid of an unmarked can. She popped the top. She looked inside.

"Some kind of-- silvery-- dust," Wednesday replied. She looked into her friend's emerald irises.

"How heavy is it?" Hailey inquired. Wednesday poked the rim of the barrel. The can nearly tipped over. Wednesday inhaled a sharp breath. She curled apprehensive digits in front of her chest. She stared across the warehouse.

"It's not heavy at all," Wednesday responded. Hailey's carnation stained lips curled into a grin. She pointed at the can her friend opened.

"It's aluminum powder," Hailey remarked. Hailey searched shaggy strands hanging in front of Lloyd's eyes. She squinted. "Do you have-- any idea what this place was?" Hailey asked.

Lloyd's coal shaded irises studied Hailey's emerald eye shutters between chocolate filaments. "I think they made-- automotive paints??" Lloyd responded. Hailey plopped thoughtful fingers on yellow sweater fabric covering her kidneys. She searched particles of rust. She looked across the room. She gazed into Wednesday's teal irises.

"Do you guys know what happens when you combine powdered aluminum with iron oxide?" Hailey requisitioned. Hailey glanced at Lloyd's coal shaded eye shutters. Lloyd shrugged.

"No," he responded.

Hailey raised her palms in front of her biceps. "It makes thermite." Hailey looked into Wednesday's baby blue eyes. Wednesday stared back. Hailey shook her fingers in front of her shoulders. "Like-- rocket fuel??" Hailey explained. Lloyd studied the edges of Hailey's pale cheeks. A smirk creased the lower half of his face.

"You wanna-- cremate the bodies," Lloyd hummed. Hailey looked into Lloyd's chocolate irises. She nodded.

"That's crazyy--" Wednesday groaned. Hailey faced her friend. Wednesday raised her palms in front of plaid covering her shoulders. "Why can't we just-- bury them??"

Hailey tilted her head. "We have to get rid of five bodies, Wednesday," Hailey explained. "It would take all night to bury them." Hailey licked her gloss coated lips. "And then, we'd still have to get rid of Travis and Martin's cars."

Wednesday shrugged. "We could just park them in front of Martin's house," Wednesday responded.

Hailey studied Wednesday's teal irises. "And, risk leaving-- DNA and traces of our clothing in their cars?" Wednesday stared into her friend's emerald eye shutters. Her pale, blue irises floated to the top, right corners of her eye sockets. "We can completely destroy them," Hailey explained. "And, the bodies." Hailey shook thoughtful digits in front of her chest. "We-- remove the--" Hailey looked into Lloyd's eyes. She squinted. "Those-- serial numbers?" she inquired. "On somebody's car??" Lloyd studied the lenses of Hailey's glasses. He inhaled a breath between his lips.

"The VIN numbers," Lloyd commented.

Hailey pointed between Lloyd's chocolate irises. "The VIN numbers," Hailey repeated. Hailey faced Wednesday. "And, the license plates." Hailey shuffled her fingers in front of her chest. "And, we mix up a big-- pile of thermite. And, we pack the license plates and the VIN number tags into the mixture. And then, we stack everyone's bodies on top--"

"Oh, my Godd--" Wednesday groaned. She folded fingertips spotted with black acrylic on top of her lips. Hailey gazed into her friend's pale irises. She shook thoughtful fingers in front of her chest.

"And then, we park Travis and Martin's cars on top," Hailey continued. "And we pack those full of thermite, too." Wednesday's pale digits dropped off the lower half of her face. Wednesday pointed at Hailey with the tips of her fingers.

"This is actually-- gonna work??" Wednesday inquired. Hailey gazed into her friend's frost tinted irises. She curled her fingers on top of her lips. She tapped her teeth with ends of tangerine fingernails. Hailey shook thoughtful digits in front of her cheeks.

"We need-- something to light it with," Hailey explained. Hailey stared into Lloyd's chocolate irises. "It requires something special--"

"Like what?" Lloyd asked. Hailey looked at the floor. She spotted a box filled with sparklers. Hailey studied fuses poking out of firecracker sticks. Apricot eyebrows collapsed on the peaks of Hailey's emerald irises. Hailey pointed at the box of sparklers with the fingers of her right hand.

"Like those--" Hailey responded. Hailey knelt down beside the box of fireworks. She gripped sparkling rods between her fingers. She suspended powder coated sticks in front of the lenses of her glasses. Lloyd pointed at flame tinted strands sprouting from Hailey's scalp. He headed towards the other end of the room.

"How do you mix it?" Lloyd inquired.

Emerald irises studied fuses through rectangular panes surrounding the bridge of Hailey's nose. "It should be equal parts," Hailey explained. Lloyd sank masculine digits into chrome tinted powder. He watched aluminum sand trickle from the ends of his fingers. He studied teal irises below the ends of Wednesday's bangs. Wednesday shrugged.

"She's-- really smart," Wednesday commented.

Lloyd exhaled a chuckle. "I know," he replied. Lloyd carried sparkling particles across the room. He sprinkled a fistful of aluminum dust next to Hailey. He wandered next to the barrels Hailey checked. He squeezed his fingers around amber granules. He sprinkled them on top of the powdered aluminum. Lloyd sat next to Hailey. Hailey and Lloyd swirled metallic particles together. Wednesday stood next to her friends. She folded arms surrounded by plaid tubes on top of her chest. She watched Lloyd and Hailey's fingers mixing rocket fuel. Lloyd lifted rust coated digits above the mixture. He patted his fingers together. Lloyd shoved his fingers into the pocket of his worn out jeans. He took out a red, plastic lighter. Hailey watched Lloyd dangle the end of his lighter above a coin shaped pile of thermite. She licked her lips.

"I don't think that will work," Hailey explained. Lloyd struck his lighter. He drowned a disc of tomato tinted dust in a butane eruption. It didn't ignite. Lloyd cupped his chin between his thumb and his index finger.

"That's interesting," Lloyd responded. Hailey handed Lloyd a sparkler. Lloyd suspended the tip of his lighter in front of a firecracker fuse. "But, if I use thiss--" Lloyd purred. Lloyd ignited his lighter. A sparkler fuse descended into a powder coated stick. Long, white sparks began pouring out of the tip of the sparkler. Lloyd lowered a sparkling fountain above the pile of thermite. Lloyd and Hailey shuffled backwards on their knees. Particles of molten metal dripped on top of rocket fuel. Eruptions like welding arcs began firing out of a coin sized puddle. Wednesday hopped away. She curled arms surrounded by red and black checks in front of her eyes.

"Aww, fuckk--" Wednesday snarled. Wednesday squeezed her eyelids together. Violet swirls repeated inside the lenses of Wednesday's eyes. Hailey and Lloyd turned their faces. They suspended defensive fingers beside the edges of their faces. Hailey squinted

"Yeahh--" Hailey groaned. "You're really not supposed to look at it while it's reacting." Lloyd searched Hailey's colorful face behind the canopy of his jacket sleeve. His lips formed into an excited grin.

"That is-- so cool!" Lloyd shouted above exothermic crackles. Hailey spotted Lloyd's coal shaded irises behind strands of shaggy hair. She giggled like an idiot. Eventually, the thermite burned out. Hailey, Wednesday, and Lloyd dragged eight barrels of aluminum powder and eight barrels of iron oxide in front of the Church's stained glass window. They dumped them onto the concrete. Lloyd handed Hailey and Wednesday spade tipped shovels. Hailey examined a shovel scoop. It was spotted with dried mud. Hailey gripped a shiny shovel handle in front of her chest. She shook it. She looked into Lloyd's coal shaded eye shutters.

"These are-- the shovels they buried me with," Hailey remarked. Lloyd studied a dirt caked shovel spade. He nodded.

"Possible," he responded. Wednesday swirled aluminum dust and rust particles together. She licked her ruby stained lips.

"What if someone calls the fire department?" Wednesday inquired.

Hailey stacked silver powder on top of amber crystals. "You mean because of the thermite?" Hailey asked. Wednesday glanced at her friend's emerald irises. She nodded. Hailey swirled particles together. Her gloss coated lips formed into a smirk. "It won't matter," she explained.

"Well--" Wednesday groaned. Wednesday scooped amber grains on top of a mountain of aluminum powder. "But, what if they put out the fire?"

Hailey shook her head. "They won't be able to," Hailey responded. Wednesday squinted. She stared into her friend's emerald eye shutters.

"What?" she inquired. "Why not??" Hailey scattered rocket fuel on top of dusty concrete. She licked her lips.

"If they pour water on it, the thermite will just-- separate the oxygen from the hydrogen." Hailey studied her friend's pale cheeks. "And then, it'll just catch on fire." Wednesday stabbed the spade of her shovel into a pile of rust particles. She stared at the lenses of her friend's glasses.

"Holy fuckk--" Wednesday groaned. "You're kidding me!" Hailey searched her friend's teal eye shutters. The corners of Hailey's lips curled into a smile. Hailey shook her head.

"No," Hailey replied. Lloyd dropped a scoop of aluminum dust near the middle of the floor. He studied Wednesday's perplexed face. He followed flame tinted strands surrounding Hailey's cheeks. He smirked.

"That's fuckin' crazyy--" Lloyd purred. Lloyd, Wednesday, and Hailey finished mixing thermite. They began gathering bodies. They stacked them like sardines on top of a mountain of rocket fuel. Travis' body stank like barbecued chicken. It was disgusting. Wednesday squeezed timid fingers around crispy skin surrounding Travis' lifeless wrists. Travis' thin, blackened flesh crumbled like dried leaves. Particles of Travis' torched dermis stuck to the surfaces of Wednesday's fingers. Wednesday's teal irises searched trench coat coals crumbling on top of Travis' exposed ribs. Wednesday stared into Hailey's emerald irises below flattened eyebrows. She shook her head.

"I'll never-- forgive you for this, Hailey," Wednesday remarked. Hailey studied her friend's pale eye shutters. She inhaled barbecue scented air between gloss stained lips.

"I'm so sorry, Wednesday," Hailey responded. "For everything." Hailey, Lloyd, and Wednesday dropped Travis' charred carcass on top of a thermite pile. Hailey drove Martin's Cutler on top of Travis and his friends' bodies. Lloyd fired up Travis' obnoxiously loud pickup. He parked it beside Martin's white car. Wednesday, Hailey, and Lloyd packed thermite into spaces between cars and bodies. They shoveled rocket fuel on top of floorboards and seats. They removed the vehicles V.I.N. numbers and license plates. They shoved them into thermite grains between mangled corpses. They rolled the Church's overhead door a foot above the concrete. That way, the reaction would have plenty of oxygen.

Hailey offered Wednesday and Lloyd sparklers. Wednesday flipped open her gold plated lighter. She struck a flint. Lloyd ignited fuses with his red, plastic cigarette sparker. Hailey dangled ends of firecracker sticks above a butane flame erupting from the end of Lloyd's lighter. Wednesday, Lloyd, and Hailey scattered sparkling rods beside edges of powder the color of Martian soil. Exothermic dust began flashing like the surface of the sun. Hailey deposited one last sparkler beside the rear, driver's side fender of Travis' truck. She sprinted towards the Church's front door.

"Let's get the fuck outta here!" Hailey shouted. Lloyd, Wednesday, and Hailey piled into Lloyd's Cammy. Lloyd drove his baby blue car up a grass hill. The Cammy climbed onto Refugee Drive. It drove towards the freeway.




Chapter 24: "Sunday"
Table of Contents

Detective Moore parked beside a curb near the edge of Hailey's front yard. He was driving an eighties model Cutler. Its flat body panels were coated with brown automotive paint. Moore parked behind a City of Malley police cruiser. Malley's police issued vehicles had black front and rear ends. The cabs and doors of the city's police cruisers were painted white. Detective Moore had dark, thoughtful eyes. They peered out of crinkled eye sockets. Curls of rust and silver hair poked out of Detective Moore's scalp. A black tie laid down the front of Detective Moore's dress shirt. Dark slacks surrounded Detective Moore's legs. A brown trench coat hung from Detective Moore's shoulders. Detective Moore studied what was left of Hailey's mom's S.U.V. He spotted a chunk of screen peeling off of the house's storm door. Something seemed-- off. The screen door was removed from its hinges. It rested against a wall beside the front entrance.

Detective Moore sipped coffee from a paper cup. He rested his drink container in a plastic drink compartment poking out of his car's dash board. Moore stepped out of the car. Scuffed up dress shoes poked out of the ends of Moore's slacks. Worn, rubber soles flattened on disheveled asphalt. Detective Moore shut the car door. A rough looking young lady approached. She was a foot shorter than Detective Moore. Moore looked down. He stared into a set of cold, dead eyes. He faked a smile.

"Y'all got any cash?" the young lady demanded.

Detective Moore patted his coat. "Well--" Detective Moore croaked. "You know, I left my billfold at the house?"

"Come on--" the young lady begged. "Not even-- fiddy cent?" Detective Moore pointed through the window of his car. He showed the rough looking lady a cup of coffee sitting in his cup-holder.

"I spent the last bit of change I had on that cup of coffee right there," Moore explained. The young lady stared into Detective Moore's dark brown eyes. She wandered to the end of Moore's Cutler. "Mann--" the young lady groaned. "Y'all people some rich ma fuckers up in here. And, y'all ain't got shit?" Detective Moore watched the young lady walk away. He wandered around the front end of his vehicle. A uniformed officer stood in front of the doorway. Fat cheeks surrounded the officer's lips. Coils of a handlebar mustache poked out of the officer's upper lip. Dark, beady irises were crushed between the officer's eyelids. A navy blue dress shirt and slacks were strapped around the officer's pudgy body. A shiny, gold badge was pinned above the officer's shirt pocket. A navy blue police cap was strapped around the rim of the officer's scalp. Arms surrounded by navy blue sleeves were crossed on top of the officer's thick chest. Hailey's front door rested beside the storm door. An "X" was formed over the entrance to Hailey's house using yellow police tape.

"Are you Moore?" the uniformed officer inquired. Moore patted his trench coat. He took out a billfold. He showed the uniformed officer his badge. Moore peeked above the officer's shoulder.

"Am I working arson now?" Detective Moore inquired.

The uniformed officer shrugged. "I just go where they tell me to," he responded. He allowed Detective Moore to pass. Moore wandered into Hailey's living room. He plopped his hands on his hips. He looked around. Another uniformed officer approached Detective Moore from the hallway. Cornflower blue irises sank into the second officer's face. Silver hair was slicked across the officer's scalp. A silver mustache covered the officer's top lip. A navy blue uniform similar to the outer officer's outfit was strapped around the inner enforcer's muscular body.

"How you likin' this one, Moore?" the inside officer asked. Moore stopped near the edge of the living room. He stared into the uniformed officer's cornflower eye shutters.

"Who's house is this?" Moore demanded.

The officer lifted a clipboard in front of his face. "That'd be-- Helen and Hailey Holloway," the officer reported. He lowered the clipboard. He gazed into Detective Moore's dark brown eyes. "Mother and daughter."

"I see--" Moore hummed. "And, uh-- where are they?"

"Not really sure, yet," the uniformed officer responded. Moore nodded. He looked up. The majority of the ceiling was missing. Moore searched leftovers of scorched rafters.

"Well--" Moore croaked. "I want to talk to her, for sure."

"Helen?" the uniformed officer asked. "Or, Hailey?" Detective Moore studied puffs drifting across the sky between edges of four by fours. He faced the uniformed officer.

"Hailey," Detective Moore replied. "The daughter." Detective Moore looked up. "I have a feeling she'll be dropping by in a little while." The inner officer walked to the front door. He told the outer officer to be on the lookout for Hailey. He looked at Moore above navy blue fabric hanging from his shoulder.

"And the mother?" the silver haired officer asked. Detective Moore faced forward. He searched Hailey's living room.

"I-- don't think we'll be seeing her any time soon," Detective Moore responded. The inner officer narrowed his eyes. He explained something to the officer watching the door.

It was just before noon. White puffs drifted across a royal blue canopy. Lloyd, Hailey, and Wednesday sat in the Cammy. Lloyd's car was parked across the street from the remains of Hailey's house. A black and white police car was parked near the edge of Hailey's sidewalk. A brown Cutler was parked behind an automobile decorated like a chocolate sandwich cookie. A pudgy cop stood in front of the entrance to Hailey's living room. His arms were crossed over his chest. A yellow "X" was stretched across the doorway. The remains of Hailey's mother's S.U.V. were crumbled in the driveway.

Hailey wore a black shirt, skinny blue jeans, and a maroon sweater-jacket. Necks of black, leather boots were strapped below Hailey's knees. Lloyd wore a faded black shirt with two white stripes across the front, a pair of blue jeans, a red and white plaid jacket, and black sneakers. Lloyd's knee showed through a hole in the leg of his jeans. Wednesday sat in the back seat. She wore a black turtleneck, a red skirt with horizontal black lines, and a pair of black leggings. Wednesday's britches descended into a pair of black, suede boots. White fluffs poked out of the necks of Wednesday's footwear. Hailey studied the outer officer's fat belly. She licked carnation shaded gloss coating her lips.

"Maybe we should come back when these guys are gone," Hailey suggested. Wednesday leaned forward. She plopped black spotted fingertips near the corners of Lloyd and Hailey's seats.

"Up to you, Hailey," Wednesday responded. Lloyd looked beside him. He studied Hailey's colorful face.

"How bad do you wanna go in there?" Lloyd inquired. Hailey's emerald irises searched a chocolate fountain pouring down the upper half of Lloyd's face. Hailey smiled. She opened the Cammy's passenger door. She tilted the back of her seat. Wednesday climbed out. Lloyd stepped out. He closed his driver's side door. Wednesday, Hailey, and Lloyd approached the pudgy officer out front. The officer's fat lips opened below the canopy of a handlebar mustache.

"Is one of you Hailey?" the uniformed officer asked. Hailey lifted a set of tiny digits beside her cheek. She tilted them like she was waving to patrons watching a parade. "Detective Moore is expecting you," the officer explained. "He says he's got a few questions." The officer squinted. "You don't have any idea where your mother is, do you?" he asked.

Hailey shrugged. "No." Wednesday looked at dried grass between the toes of her boots. She closed her eyes. She exhaled an impatient breath through her tiny nostrils.

"Well--" the officer groaned. He stepped beside the doorway. "Moore's wanting to talk to you. He's in there, waiting." Hailey and her friends ducked below police tape. They stepped into Hailey's living room. Hailey's ugly, living room coffee table was the color of coal. The dining room table and chairs were barbecued. The plastic kitty cat clock in the kitchen was melted to the wall. Hailey looked up. She studied a royal blue canopy between edges of smoldered rafters. The air stank like sulphur and soot. Boards arranged below the floor groaned under the weight of Hailey and her friends' footsteps.

A large man in a brown trench coat spoke to a uniformed officer. He stood next to Hailey's living room sofa, taking notes. Hailey figured the man with the trench coat was Detective Moore. He was tall and stout. Hailey studied black dress shoes poking out of Detective Moore's pants legs. They were scuffed and unkempt. They were beginning to become unstitched. Hailey looked up. She searched rust and silver curls poking out of Detective Moore's scalp. Moore stopped talking. He faced Hailey, Lloyd, and Wednesday.

"Which one of you's Hailey?" Detective Moore inquired. Hailey raised her hand. "Well--" Moore groaned. "Ms. Holloway." Detective Moore stepped over burnt veneer. He offered Hailey his hand. Hailey gripped Moore's wrinkled, overworked digits. She shook his hand. Detective Moore's fingers were like a handful of carrots. Hailey looked above the tops of her glasses lenses. She gazed into Moore's dark brown eyes.

"You don't look like an arson cop," Hailey remarked. She let go of Detective Moore's wise fingers. "More like a homicide detective."

Rust colored caterpillars climbed Detective Moore's forehead. "I am with homicide," Moore explained. Hailey studied dark irises between Moore's crinkled eye sockets. Detective Moore was a deep thinker. It was written on his face. Hailey licked carnation gloss coating her lips.

"Do you mind if me and my friends pick up some of my stuff?" Hailey inquired. Detective Moore gazed into Hailey's emerald eye shutters. Hailey was a deep thinker. Moore was quite sure about that. Moore could tell Hailey was very intelligent-- possibly, too intelligent for her own good. Moore inhaled a breath between his lips.

"Where's your mother, Hailey?" Moore requisitioned.

Hailey squinted. "Is that why you're here?" she demanded. Moore narrowed his eyes. Long wrinkles extended from the edges of Detective Moore's eye sockets. Moore tilted his head. He studied Hailey's colorful face. It was a foot and a half lower than his.

"I have a few questions," Moore responded. "Uh-- But, you have no-- idea-- where your mother is?" Hailey shook her head.

"What about these missing kids?" the uniformed officer asked. The officer crossed arms wrapped in navy blue sleeves over his chest. Hailey studied the uniformed officer's cornflower irises. She shrugged.

"Missing kids?" Hailey inquired.

"Friends--" Detective Moore croaked. He dangled a tiny notepad in front of his chocolate irises. "Friends of-- Tommy Keel, Joe Eaves, Gary Dodson, and Tate Hewitt." Detective Moore gazed into Hailey's emerald irises. "You know-- the kids who were dissected at your school on Friday?"

Hailey nodded. "Is that their-- names??" Hailey asked.

Detective Moore studied his notepad. "Uh--" he grumbled. "They were friends of-- Travis Griffin and Jennifer Rogers." Moore looked up. He pointed at Hailey with the edge of his notepad. "You know Jennifer Rogers. Right, Hailey?" Detective Moore gazed into Hailey's emerald eye shutters. "That's the girl you beat up on Thursday." Hailey inhaled through carnation stained lips. She sighed. She studied Detective Moore's dark brown irises. She licked gloss coating the edges of her mouth.

"I don't mean to be rude," Hailey responded. "Um-- Can we have this conversation-- some other time?" Hailey forced her lips into the shape of a smile. "I just came to-- maybe pick up some of my things??"

"Where are you going?" the uniformed officer asked. Hailey faced the uniformed officer. She pointed at Wednesday above her shoulder with her thumb.

"I'm gonna-- stay with my friend, Wednesday," Hailey explained. "Her parents said I could live with them for a little while." Hailey relaxed her tiny fingers beside navy blue denim strapped around her hips. "You know-- until I can figure out where my mom's gotten off to."

"I see--" Moore croaked. He flipped through his notepad. He scratched something down. "You're, uh-- very fortunate," Detective Moore responded. "To have such a good friend." Moore studied Hailey's emerald irises. "And, you have-- no idea where your mother is?"

Hailey shrugged. "With her?" Hailey shook her head. "There's no telling."

"Hmm--" Detective Moore hummed. He squinted. "What does that mean, exactly?" Hailey stared into Moore's wrinkled eyes. She licked her gloss coated lips.

"She's a drunk, Detective Moore," Hailey responded. Hailey looked at scorched carpet fibers melted to wobbling baseboards. She faced Detective Moore. Hailey pointed towards her bedroom with her thumb. "Can we go?" Hailey asked. Detective Moore and the uniformed officer looked at each another. The officer shrugged. Moore stared into the uniformed officer's cornflower eye shutters. He faced Hailey.

"Surre--" Moore hummed. "I guess that's alright." Hailey turned around. She headed for her bedroom. Wednesday and Lloyd followed. "Ohh--" Detective Moore groaned. "Ms. Holloway?" Hailey and her friends stopped. Hailey looked at Detective Moore above maroon fabric hanging from her shoulder.

"Yes?" Hailey requisitioned.

"Just, uh-- one more question I have," Moore explained. "Thank you for your patience--" Moore studied his notepad. "Uh--" Moore looked into Hailey's emerald irises. "How did you know that your house burned down?"

Hailey gazed into Detective Moore's tar tinted irises. "I read it in the paper," she responded.

Moore scratched something onto his notepad. "I see--" Moore groaned. Detective Moore shooed Hailey and her friends with his fingers. Hailey, Wednesday, and Lloyd disappeared into Hailey's bedroom.

"Mann--" Wednesday groaned. "That guy doesn't give up." Hailey glanced at her friend's teal irises. Wednesday shook uncertain fingers in front of her shoulders. "He asked about your mom, like-- three times." Hailey looked around. Her room was in shambles. Wood planks covering the walls was charred into slats of coal. Checkered tiles covering the floor were scorched and shattered. Hailey's desk and her bookcase went up in flames. Hailey's books were ashes. Hailey stepped towards what was left of her bed. She felt baseboards crackling underneath edges of broken tiles. Wednesday's fingers squeezed shut around her friend's magenta covered wrist. "Jesus Christ, Hailey--" Wednesday grumbled. Hailey looked into Wednesday's eyes over her shoulder.

A shell made of scorched carbon resembled the shape of Hailey's bed frame. Structures made of wire and coil springs teetered on scorched boards coated with ash. Hailey's stuffed kitty laid on the floor next to remnants of polished oak. Hailey crouched beside soot stained tiles. She lifted her calico stuffed animal with the tips of her fingers. Black, white, and light brown yarn fluffs poked out of the toy kitten's body. One side of Hailey's kitty's face was scorched. The kitten's right ear burned and turned to ash. Hailey steadied her stuffed toy in front of her face. She snuggled its artificial fur against her cheek. Wednesday crouched down beside her friend. She glided sympathetic fingers down magenta fabric covering Hailey's bicep.

"Hailey, this is awfull--" Wednesday groaned. Hailey looked beside her. She studied her friend's pale, blue irises.

"It's totally destroyed," Hailey responded. Hailey looked around. The top half of Hailey's Einstein poster was tacked above a coil spring sculpture that used to be her mattress. The body of Hailey's wood clock was barbecued. A plastic face decorated with Roman numerals was melted. A corner of Hailey's plaid blanket dangled from the edge of a mattress skeleton.

Chunks of charred garments hung from warped hangers in Hailey's closet. Wednesday stepped inside a space lined with charred boards. She lifted a wire hanger off of a soot coated pole. She showed it to Hailey. Scraps of charred leather shaped like Wednesday's jacket hung from rims of a twisted garment dangler. Wednesday glared into Hailey's emerald irises above black fabric wrapping her shoulders. She shook her head. Hailey studied the remains of her friend's cow hide coat. She gazed into her friend's teal irises. She sighed.

"I'm so sorry, Wednesdayy--" Hailey purred. Wednesday faced Hailey's closet. She dangled jacket remnants from a soot coated clothes rack.

"We just need to get outta here," Wednesday remarked. She studied chocolate chunks hanging from Lloyd's forehead. She looked into her friend's emerald irises. "This is a fuckin' joke." Hailey wandered across her bedroom. She studied empty book spines resting on charred shelves. Black pages made of ash were sandwiched between barbecued covers. Hailey spotted a thick book cover containing an Edgar Allan Poe collection. She poked edges of charcoal sheets. They crumbled and turned into dust. Hailey looked at her friends above her shoulder. She licked her carnation coated lips.

"Fuck thiss--" Hailey groaned. "Let's get outta here." Wednesday walked beside her friend. Lloyd followed the girls towards the door.

"Seen enough, huh?" Wednesday inquired.

"My Edgar Allan Poe??" Hailey snarled. "I think a piece of my soul just died." The girls entered remnants of Hailey's hallway. Wednesday squeezed sweater wrapped arms around her friend's biceps. She soothed Hailey's wrists using fingers spotted with black nail polish.

"My parents can-- buy you some new stuff," Wednesday suggested.

Lloyd walked behind the girls. "Well-- surely your mom had insurance," he remarked. Wednesday and Hailey searched the upper half of Lloyd's shag covered face.

"You're funny, Lloyd," Wednesday replied.

Hailey's apricot eyebrows lifted above her emerald irises. "We were lucky to have a house," Hailey explained. "Insurance??" Hailey stood beside the front door. She shook her head. Hailey and her friends looked across remnants of Hailey's living room. Detective Moore and the uniformed officer stared back. Hailey studied Detective Moore's dark brown irises. She ducked underneath police tape covering the entrance to her house. Wednesday and Lloyd followed. Detective Moore pointed at flames pouring out of Hailey's scalp.

"Ohh--" Moore grumbled. "Ms. Holloway?" Hailey froze beside an "X" made out of yellow tape. She peaked beside the edge of her house's front door frame. Detective Moore pointed a carrot shaped finger between Hailey's emerald irises. "I'll see you around," Moore remarked. Hailey inhaled through her nostrils. She exhaled a long breath through her carnation coated lips. She swirled on toes of black, leather boots. She followed her friends across the street.




Chapter 25: "Monday"
Table of Contents

Mrs. Williams parked her red compact beside the edge of Glory High's main parking lot. A baby blue, silk shirt was fastened around Wednesday's mom's upper body. The base of Mrs. Williams' top sank into the waist of a dark, blue jean skirt. Navy blue denim buttoned in front of Wednesday's mom's thighs. Mrs. Williams' pale calves descended from the base of her blue jean skirt. Her insteps sank into cherry red high heels. Wednesday's mom looked beside her. Irises like sea ice wandered to the corners of Mrs. Williams' eyes. Pale eye shutters studied Wednesday's face between curtains of black, shoulder length hair.

Wednesday wore a black blouse with short sleeves, a red and black plaid skirt, and black wedges. The soles of Wednesday's footwear were made of wood. Rubber mats fastened to the bases of Wednesday's shoes prevented them from clanking like tap dancing shoes. Mrs. Williams looked beside the back of her chair. Hailey sank into the back seat of Wednesday's mom's rice burner. She wore a white blouse. The lower edge of Hailey's top sank into the waist of a black skirt. White outlines formed variously sized circles along the surface of Hailey's knee length dress. A set of Wednesday's black flats surrounded the edges of Hailey's feet. Mrs. Williams studied Hailey's emerald irises. She faced her daughter's seat.

"Are you girls sure you wanna go to school, today?" Wednesday's mom inquired. She looked at Hailey's colorful face. "With some-- crazy person in there? Going around--" Mrs. Williams gazed into Wednesday's pale, blue irises. She shook her head. Ruby red lips parted below the tip of Wednesday's mom's tiny nose. "I think they should've canceled school, today."

"Mommm--" Wednesday groaned. Mrs. Williams' slender brows lifted above the peaks of her eye sockets. Wednesday's mom shook fingers spotted with black nail polish in front of her chest.

"Wednesday, you're so-- tiny!" Wednesday's mom blurted. She leaned across a console dividing her car's front seats. She threw arms surrounded with baby blue silk around her daughter's shoulders. "You're just-- tiny, tiny children!" Wednesday squeezed her mother's ribs. She rested her chin on sky blue silk hanging from her mom's shoulder. She chuckled. "Wednesdayy!" Mrs. Williams groaned. "Why are you laughing?! It's not funny!"

Wednesday soothed her mom's back with the fingers of her right hand. "We're not little girls, mom," Wednesday explained.

"Mmmm--" Mrs. Williams hummed. She and Wednesday let go of each other. They sat up. Wednesday's mom stared into her daughter's teal irises. She reached beside Wednesday's pale cheeks. She glided ends of acrylic spotted fingers down strands of her daughter's chin length hair. "Alright, fine--" Mrs. Williams purred. "You're not little girls." Wednesday's mom studied emeralds between flames surrounding Hailey's face. "You're young ladies." Mrs. Williams inhaled through her nostrils. She exhaled between ruby stained lips. Wednesday's mom's eyelids peeled off of her pale irises. Mrs. Williams shook agitated digits in front of silk covered biceps. "They should cancel school!"

Wednesday's ruby red lips formed a smile along the lower edge of her face. "Yeah," Wednesday agreed. Wednesday's eyebrows lifted above her pale irises. "Permanently." Mrs. Williams gazed into her daughter's eyes. She narrowed her eyelids. She faked a smile.

"Oh," Wednesday's mom purred. "Ha-ha-ha-haa--" Mrs. Williams helped Wednesday slide denim backpack harnesses over her shoulders. "That's very funny, Wednesday." Wednesday's mom looked beside her seat. She gazed into Hailey's emerald irises. She squeezed between her compact's front seats. She extended arms surrounded by baby blue silk. "Come here, Haileyy--" Mrs. Williams hummed. Hailey glided tomato red book bag straps over her shoulders. She leaned forward. She threw her arms around Wednesday's mom's slender neck.

"Thank you for everything, Mrs. Williams," Hailey remarked.

Mrs. Williams squeezed Hailey's tiny shoulder blades between her biceps. "You're welcome, sweetie," Wednesday's mom responded. She nuzzled her cheek against flame tinted strands growing out of the back of Hailey's scalp. "I'm sure your mom will come back in a few days. It's not the first time she's gone missing."

Hailey inhaled between lips coated with carnation shaded gloss. "I'm sure you're right, Mrs. Williams," Hailey replied. She looked towards Wednesday's mom's front, passenger door. Wednesday stood beside her mom's car. She glared at her friend's pale face. She shook her head and walked away.

"Are you sure you wanna go to school, today?" Wednesday's mom asked. Mrs. Williams let go of Hailey's shoulders. Hailey loosened her arms. She gazed into Wednesday's mom's pale, blue irises. She tilted her head.

"Ohh--" Hailey groaned. "Not really." Hailey licked carnation gloss coating her lips. "I have to talk to my Algebra Two teacher about making up a test I missed. And, I also need to replace the books that I lost."

Wednesday's mom nodded. "If you girls have any problems--" she hummed. "Any problems-- you go down to the office and call me at work. Okay?" Hailey studied Mrs. Williams' teal eye shutters. She nodded. Wednesday's mom stared into Hailey's emerald irises. She pointed between the lenses of Hailey's glasses. "You girls be careful," Mrs. Williams instructed. She pointed at Hailey's chest with the fingers of her right hand. "You-- tiny little girls!" she grumbled. Wednesday's mom faced forward. She closed uneasy digits around the edges of her steering wheel. She glanced at Hailey above baby blue silk surrounding her shoulder. "You're just tiny!" Mrs. Williams snapped. Hailey's gloss coated lips transformed into a smile. Hailey shook her head.

"Bye, Mrs. Williams," Hailey remarked. Mrs. Williams stared at Hailey in her rearview mirror. Her ruby stained lips formed the shape of a grin. Wednesday's mom waved at Hailey's reflection.

"Byye--" Mrs. Williams hummed. Hailey shifted Wednesday's seat forward. She slipped out of Wednesday's mom's back seat. She reset Mrs. Williams' front, passenger chair. She closed the door. Wednesday's mom's red compact drove away. Hailey stood next to her friend. She looked beside her. She studied the edges of Wednesday's pale cheeks. Wednesday stared into space. She inhaled between edges of ruby stained lips.

"Lyingg-- to my mom," Wednesday groaned. Wednesday's face turned. Wednesday stared into her friend's emerald green eyes. Slender eyebrows lifted above Wednesday's teal irises. Wednesday inhaled a sharp breath. "Pretty sure that's one of the-- seven deadly sins, Hailey." Hailey gazed into her friend's baby blue eye shutters. She tilted her head.

"I hate-- lying to your mom," Hailey responded. Wednesday stared into the lenses of Hailey's glasses. She plopped down near the edge of the sidewalk. She squeezed out of denim backpack harnesses. She rested her blue jean book bag on top of red and black checks covering her lap. Hailey collapsed next to her friend. She squeezed her knees together. She shuffled edges of a bubble embellished skirt along the edges of her thighs. She looked beside her. Wednesday plopped a cigarette between her ruby red lips. She flipped open her gold plated lighter. She struck a flint. Hailey watched her friend ignite the end of a coffin nail. She inhaled a breath between her gloss coated lips. "You're sorta-- lying to your mom right now," Hailey commented. Wednesday cyphoned a cancer stick. She dragged a smoldering tube away from the edges of her mouth. She looked into Hailey's emerald green eyes. She exhaled scorching mist from the corners of her lips.

"Because, I'm smoking a cigarette?" Wednesday inquired. Hailey studied her friend's pale irises. She shrugged. Wednesday leaned towards her friend's face. She shook a burning tobacco tube in front of Hailey's eyes. "You're equating thiss--" Wednesday snarled. "With what you did?" Hailey stared at Wednesday's teal eye shutters. She stared at white circles etched on top of her lap. Wednesday faced forward. She tilted a lit cigarette beside her pale cheek. "What you did-- was despicable," Wednesday grumbled. Wednesday poked empty space with the end of her coffin nail. "Despicable." Wednesday took a drag from her cigarette. She inhaled between edges of ruby red lips. She faced her friend. She exhaled a tube of mist from the edge of her mouth. She rolled her eyes. "Aww, fuckk--" Wednesday squeezed out of quivering lips. "I'm sorry, Hailey." Hailey looked into her friend's pale irises. She showed Wednesday her palms.

"It's okay, Wednesday," Hailey responded. Wednesday reached behind her friend's shoulder blades. She squeezed ends of irritated digits around white silk wrapping Hailey's bicep. She rested the edge of her face beside Hailey's neck. She forced wiggling lips apart. Hot tears trickled out of the corners of Wednesday's eyes.

"I don't know why I keep getting so mad at youu--" Wednesday forced out of wobbling mouth edges. Hailey surrounded her friend's ribs with silk covered biceps. She folded tiny wrists between the edge of Wednesday's backpack and her waist. Hailey crushed flames growing out of her temple on top of her friend's scalp. She stroked chin length strands hanging beside her friend's pale cheek.

"I understand, Wednesday," Hailey purred. Hailey shook her head, gently. "I understand." Wednesday tapped ash off the end of her cigarette. She plopped a ruby stained cigarette filter between the edges of her lips. She cyphoned a tube of nicotine stained cellulose. Hailey heard soles of sloppy sneakers stepping next to her. She looked beside her shoulder. She followed untied shoelaces to the neck of a dingy skate shoe. She studied legs of light khakis wadded around edges of worn out, black sneakers. Hailey's pupils traced edges of a white t-shirt strapped around muscular pecks and biceps. Hailey searched shaggy, chocolate brown strands concealing the upper half of a pale face. She gazed into Lloyd's dark brown irises. Lloyd smirked.

"Hi, Hailey," Lloyd remarked. Hailey's head lifted off of Wednesday's. Hailey's emerald eye shutters stared between strands of Lloyd's shaggy hair.

"Heyy--" Hailey purred. Wednesday looked above her friend's flame tinted locks. Her tiny fingers dropped off of Hailey's bicep. Lloyd glanced at Wednesday's teal irises. Wednesday's eyelids were sopping wet. Lloyd pretended not to notice.

"Hi, Wednesday," Lloyd remarked.

Wednesday forced the corners of her lips into the shape of a smile. "H-Hi, Lloyd," Wednesday squeezed out. Wednesday sat up. She dragged the tip of her thumb across saline soaked eye flaps. Lloyd motioned towards Hailey's shoulders with the fingers of his right hand.

"You girls don't mind if I join you, right?" Lloyd requisitioned. Hailey squinted. She motioned towards an empty spot next to her hip.

"No," Hailey responded. "Of course you can sit with us." Wednesday faced forward. She sniffled. She studied the edges of her friend's pale cheeks. Hailey stared across the street. She licked carnation shaded gloss coating her lips. She looked into her friend's teal irises. Wednesday's grinning face gazed back. The corners of Hailey's lips curled into a smile. Hailey faced forward. She shook her head. Lloyd plopped down next to Hailey. He rested the heel of a worn out sneaker along the edge of a concrete gutter. His knee hovered in front of his chest. Lloyd rested his thick fingers on top of his shin.

"I heard you girls liked to hang out over here before school," Lloyd remarked. Hailey squeezed Wednesday's ribs with her biceps. She studied Lloyd's coal shaded irises. She smiled. She narrowed emerald eyes behind panes of glass.

"How do you-- 'hear' about these things??" Hailey inquired. Lloyd gazed into the lenses of Hailey's glasses. He smirked. He tilted his head.

"I hear what I wanna hear," Lloyd responded. Lloyd looked beside Hailey's colorful face. He studied pale, blue irises below the ends of Wednesday's bangs. He licked his lips. "Are you gonna be okay, Wednesday?" Lloyd asked. Wednesday studied Lloyd's tar shaded irises. She took a drag from her cigarette. She inhaled between ruby stained mouth edges.

"I'm fine," Wednesday replied. Hailey let go of her friend's tiny waist. She leaned next to the edges of Lloyd's sloppy, black sneaker. She wound ends of loose shoestrings in front of Lloyd's ankle. She tied them into a bow. She sat up. Lloyd studied Hailey's pale face. He smiled. The corners of Hailey's gloss coated lips pointed towards her forehead.

"Haileyy--" Lloyd hummed. "I came over here for a reason." Hailey's eyebrows lifted above her emerald irises. Hailey inhaled between smiling lips.

"Ohhh--" Hailey purred. Hailey stared into Lloyd's chocolate irises. She blinked. "Uh-- why?" Lloyd exhaled a quiet chuckle. He studied Hailey's emerald green eye shutters. Lloyd reached beside his hip. He closed ends of masculine digits around Hailey's tiny fingers. He wobbled Hailey's tangerine spotted fingertips beside her shoulder.

"I was wondering if you'd go see this movie with me, tonight," Lloyd remarked. Lloyd shrugged. "Maybe we could-- go get something to eat after that?"

Hailey grinned like an idiot. "You're asking me out on a date!" she beamed.

Lloyd giggled, silently. "I'm asking you out on a date," Lloyd responded. "I'm actually doing it."

"Aww, Lloydd--" Hailey purred between smiling lips. "What time?"

Lloyd's bushy eyebrows lifted above his coal shaded irises. "Well, this movie I wanna see starts at six-thirty," he explained. "I was thinking I could pick you up around six?"

"O-kayy--" Hailey hummed. "Six o'clock." Hailey pointed beside her shoulder with her thumb. "Pick me up at Wednesday's house."

Lloyd shook Hailey's fingers in front of her shoulder. "You got it." Lloyd rested Hailey's tiny digits along circle printed fabric covering her lap. Hailey looked beside her. She gazed into Wednesday's teal irises. Corners of a stupid grin pierced Hailey's cheeks.

"Wednesday-- I got a date, tonight!" Hailey reported. Wednesday chuckled. She shook her friend's fingers beside white silk covering her bicep. Slender eyebrows lifted above Wednesday's frosty irises.

"I'm so excited!" Wednesday responded. Hailey exhaled high pitched giggles. She dragged her fingers away from her friend's. She folded embarrassed digits over her grinning lips. She searched shaggy strands hanging down the top half of Lloyd's face. She lowered fingertips dotted with neon orange nail polish.

"Hey, Lloyd," Hailey remarked. She licked nervous lips coated with carnation gloss. "Will you-- kiss me before we go to class??" Lloyd stared into Hailey's emerald irises. He smirked.

"Awww, Haileyy--" Lloyd grumbled. Chocolate eyebrows lifted above Lloyd's irises. "Again??" Hailey folded nervous fingers on top of her lap. She exhaled an impatient breath from her smiling lips. Lloyd lifted his index finger beside Hailey's bicep. He pointed at a cement square between his and Hailey's hips. "You want me to kiss you-- right now?" Lloyd motioned towards the sidewalk with his pointer finger. "Right here-- in front of everybody??"

Apricot eyebrows hopped off of Hailey's emerald irises. "L-Lloydd!!" Hailey shrieked. Lloyd's face floated towards Hailey's. His salmon tinted mouth edges collapsed on top of Hailey's gloss coated lips. Hailey closed grateful eyelids in front of emerald irises. She pressed her slick, carnation stained lips against the rims of Lloyd's mouth. She glided tips of tangerine spotted fingers through sloppy strands hanging from the back of Lloyd's scalp. Wednesday watched her friends making out. Wednesday's smiling, ruby red lips transformed into a dreadful scowl. Wednesday looked at her lap. She studied denim fabric surrounding her books.

"C-lass--" Wednesday snarled. "Class." Wednesday gritted nervous incisors between edges of ruby stained lips. "Aww, mann--" Wednesday groaned. Lloyd and Hailey sucked their lips apart. They looked beside them. Wednesday gripped the edge of her bottom lip with her teeth. She looked at her friends. "I forgot to do my Psychology questions, again," Wednesday explained. Hailey inhaled a breath.

"The ones Mr. Tinney assigned at the end of class?" Hailey inquired. Wednesday nodded. She pointed at Hailey's chest with the end of her cigarette.

"You lost yours in the fire, right?" Wednesday asked.

Hailey shrugged. "Well, I re-did them," she explained. She pointed at black sweater fabric covering Wednesday's chest. "I borrowed your Psychology book last night. And, I re-did--" Wednesday shook agitated fingers in front of her biceps. Pitch black brows lifted above Wednesday's pale irises.

"And, you re-did them?!" Wednesday shouted. The corners of Hailey's lips curled into a smile. Hailey raised her palms in front of her shoulders. Wednesday jiggled frustrated digits beside her pale cheeks. "AAAAHH!!" Wednesday took a drag from her cigarette. She crushed a smoldering cigarette filter beside wooden wedges fastened to the soles of her shoes. She ripped open her denim backpack. She searched her blue jean book bag. "Which ones were they?" she demanded.

The bell rang at 7:50. Students packed the halls of Glory High School. They made their way to various classes. Mr. Tinney stood beside his classroom door. An olive, argyle vest with red diamonds hung from Mr. Tinney's shoulders. Sleeves of a white dress shirt poked out of the shoulders of Mr. Tinney's chest covering. Mr. Tinney wore slacks and shiny shoes. Mr. Tinney's caring eyes peaked out of rims of square shaped glasses below peppered hair strands. Mr. Tinney gazed into students' eyes and nodded when they entered his classroom. Ends of tiny fingers wiggled a sheet of notebook paper in front of the lenses of Mr. Tinney's glasses. Mr. Tinney jumped. Kind irises studied fingernails coated with black nail polish. Mr. Tinney skimmed disorganized handwritting. Answers to questions from Mr. Tinney's classroom textbook were scribbled above thin, blue lines. Wednesday's grinning face appeared beside her homework. Wednesday eagerly offered a sheet filled with chicken scratch.

"Mr. Tinney!" Wednesday beamed. "I did it!" Mr. Tinney studied Wednesday's teal irises. He squinted. He snatched Wednesday's assignment away from black dots coating her fingernails.

"Ohh--" Mr. Tinney groaned. "Ms. Williams. You finallyy did your homework." Mr. Tinney studied Wednesday's messy handwriting. He looked up. He licked his lips. "Wednesday, you answered the wrong questions." Slender brows lifted above Wednesday's icy blue irises. Wednesday wiggled frustrated fingers in front of her shoulders.

"W-What?!" Wednesday shouted. "No!"

Mr. Tinney's lips transformed into a smile. "I-- I'm just kidding!" Mr. Tinney exhaled through a chuckle. Wednesday stared into Mr. Tinney's kind eyes. Her eyebrows flattened on top of her pale irises. Wednesday tilted her head.

"Ah-ha-ha-ha, ha-haa--" Wednesday breathed out between sarcastic lips. Wednesday coasted into Mr. Tinney's classroom. She pointed between the lenses of Mr. Tinney's glasses. "That's not funny, Mr. Tinney." Hailey and Lloyd sat near the back of Mr. Tinney's room. Wednesday wandered to the rear of the classroom. She sat next to her friends. The eight o'clock bell rang. Mr. Tinney closed the hallway door. He walked in front of his blackboard. He lifted a stick of chalk. He studied the classroom above olive yarn stitched on top of his shoulder.

"Everybody, go ahead and pass in your homework assignments," Mr. Tinney instructed. Mr. Tinney rested the end of his chalk stick against a slate surface. He looked over his shoulder, again. "Uh-- there's gonna be-- an interruption, today," Mr. Tinney added. "A-- moment of silence," he explained.

"What for?" a young man's voice asked. Mr. Tinney wrote the word "Schizophrenia" along the top of his blackboard. He rested a white stick near the edge of a shelf below a slate writing surface. Mr. Tinney turned around. He pointed at someone sitting near the front row.

"You haven't heard about it, yet?" Mr. Tinney asked. Sprouts of dark hair swiveled on top of a shaking head. Mr. Tinney pointed between a young man's eyes with a shaking index finger. "You will," Mr. Tinney responded. "In a litte bit." Wednesday looked beside her. Hailey passed her homework to a student sitting in front of her. She gazed into her friend's pale, blue irises. She offered Wednesday a set of pale digits beside the edge of her desk. Wednesday studied her friend's tiny fingers. She sank fingertips dotted with black nail polish into the surface of Hailey's palm. Hailey curled her fingers around her friend's. She glided the surface of her thumb across the ends of Wednesday's soft knuckles. Mr. Tinney collected homework papers from desks arranged along the front row of his classroom. He stacked them on his desk. He wandered in front of his blackboard. He searched teenage faces. He squinted.

"Anyone know what schizophrenia is?" Mr. Tinney asked. Gwen sat behind a desk along the front row. A turtleneck wrapped in black and white stripes surrounded Gwen's arms and upper body. Strands of long, black hair were chopped an inch above Gwen's slender shoulders. Gwen lifted an arm wrapped in slender, black and white bands. Mr. Tinney pointed at Gwen's desk. "Yes, Gwen?" Mr. Tinney inquired.

"That's like-- multiple personalities," Gwen explained. "Right?" Mr. Tinney studied Gwen's eyes. He looked around.

"Does everyone agree with that?" Mr. Tinney asked. Hailey raised her hand. Mr. Tinney studied emerald irises behind the lenses of Hailey's glasses. He smirked. "Uh-- Ms. Holloway?" Mr. Tinney requisitioned. Hailey rested ends of neon spotted digits along the end of her desk. She inhaled a breath between edges of carnation stained lips.

"I've heard people say that before," Hailey explained. "The disease of-- multiple personalities is known as 'Dissociative Identity Disorder'." Hailey licked her gloss coated lips. She looked beside her. Lloyd gazed back. He rested a smirking cheek on the surface of his palm. He gazed into Hailey's glittering irises. Hailey smiled. She faced forward. "Schizophrenia is a mental disorder where-- a person experiences delusions and hallucinations. They usually demonstrate-- disorganized thinking-- and paranoid behavior. They may also lose cognitive function-- like memory and speech." Mr. Tinney faced Gwen. He shrugged.

"Sorry, Gwen," Mr. Tinney remarked. "The girl knows her stuff." Laughter spread across the classroom. Hailey smiled. She used a pencil and a sheet of notebook paper she borrowed from Wednesday. She scratched the word "Psychology" near the top of a lined writing surface. She wrote "Schizophrenia" below that. She looked up. Gwen was turned around in her seat. Hailey stared into a set of hazel irises near the top of Gwen's pale face. Points of long, black eyebrows pointed down the middle of Gwen's nose. Tomato red gloss coated Gwen's scowling lips. Gwen flipped Hailey off. Gwen's tomato stained lips mouthed the word "bitch". Gwen swirled around in her seat. She studied Mr. Tinney's blackboard. Hailey looked around. No one noticed Gwen's behavior. Wednesday looked beside her. Her friend's emerald irises stared through rectangular panes surrounding the bridge of her nose. Wednesday sensed something was wrong.

"Hailey?" Wednesday inquired. "Are you okay?" Hailey stared into space. She gazed into her friend's baby blue irises. She licked carnation shaded gloss coating her lips.

"No," Hailey responded. Hailey's pale face swiveled side to side. "No, I'm not."

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